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On Liberty (Broadview Literary Texts) Paperback – 1999

4.0 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Broadview Press (1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1551111993
  • ISBN-13: 978-1551111995
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.4 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #877,967 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

Mill's On Liberty stands among the most important achievements in the history of political thought. His arguments are as pertinent today as ever. This much-needed new edition is especially useful, as it includes Steven M. Cahn's helpful annotations as well as an excellent Introduction and thought-provoking Study Guide by C. L. Ten. (Talisse, Robert B.) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

Published in 1859, this essay by British philosopher and economist John Stuart Mill (1806-73) remains a major influence upon liberal political thought today. In this work, Mill defines liberty as an absolute individual right, and defends freedom of speech as a necessary condition of social and intellectual progress. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Format: Paperback
John Stuart Mill, while not the greatest philosopher ever to walk the earth, is the one philosopher that I have studied thus far that really motivated me to become politically active and responsible to my own actions. In his essay, "On Liberty" Mill outlines the boundaries of government and private lives. In short: as long as you do not hurt anyone, you are free to do as you please. Of course, Mill manages to mention a few damaging exceptions to his rule, but the part of his essay that really spoke to me and awoke the activist within was his examination of free expression. What Mill maintains, and I think this is very sound thinking, is that all ideas may be expressed and should never, under any circumstances (except, of course, for one), be silenced by a government. All expressions, whether they be unpopular or dangerous to the government, must have the protection of the state. The reasons for this, he says are many, most notably, that popular conceptions that people have presently tend to die and become less powerful without the challenge of unpopular thought. I witnessed this very circumstance within myself very recently, and I have rebelled against my earlier lethargy and I am ready to take on the world and work to make it a freer and more constructive (rather than destructive) place. This then ties into the essay "Utilitariansim" where Mill tries to prove that the best thing for society is the greatest pleasure and the least amount of pain. While not quite so cut and dry as it may seem, Mill definitely does have an enticing idea on the general welfare of the people. This book, while some may find it dangerous and distasteful, should be read by anyone wanting equality and the freest possible society
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By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAME on July 8 2004
Format: Paperback
It is surprising to me how many people assume that 'On Liberty' was written before or during the American Revolution - Mill was certainly influenced by the spirit of American liberty, which was variously romanticised and adapted in Britain and Europe during the nineteenth century. Published in 1859, 'On Liberty' is one of the primary political texts of the nineteenth century; perhaps only the writings of Marx had a similar impact, and of the two, in today's world, Mill's philosophy seems the one that is triumphant.
One of the interesting ideas behind 'On Liberty' is that this may in fact be more the inspiration of Harriet Taylor (later Mrs. J.S. Mill) than of Mill himself; Taylor wrote an essay on Toleration, most likely in 1832, but it remained unpublished until after her death. F.A. Hayek (free-market economist and philosopher) noticed this connection. Whether this was the direct inspiration or not, the principles are similar, and the Mills were rather united in their views about liberty.
'On Liberty' is more of an extended essay than a book - it isn't very long (104 pages of the text in the Norton Critical Edition, edited by David Spitz). It relates as a political piece to his general Utilitarianism and political reform ideology. A laissez faire capitalist in political economy, his writing has been described as 'improved Adam Smith' and 'popularised Ricardo'. Perhaps it is in part the brevity of 'On Liberty' that gives it an enduring quality.
There are five primary sections to the text. The introduction sets the stage philosophically and historically. He equates the histories of classical civilisations (Greece and Rome) with his contemporary England, stating that the struggle between liberty and authority is ever present and a primary feature of society.
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Format: Paperback
John Stuart Mill, author of On Liberty, defines the nature of civil liberty, and most importantly, the harm principl. He aims to give readers a better understanding of the nature and limits of power that can be exercised by society over individuals. The purpose of this book is to inform interested individuals about the rights of individuals and the limitations of the government. This book of philosophy was written almost 150 years ago. By reading the book, the reader is able to apply Mill's message and examples to our lives in America today. The ahead-of-the-times ideas that are in On Liberty can be related to our world because it discusses controversies that are still seen in our courtrooms today. Mill is able to accomplish his purpose because he uses many examples, thoughts, and theories about individual and social rights. He works through each of his ideas, looking at both sides of the issue to enable the reader to make their own informed decision about each matter. This book has a practical meaning because it allows the reader to develop and reason ideas about government power and when that power should be exercised over the people. Unfortunately, this book does have one draw back. Mill was a very educated man and wrote very well for his time. Yet today, our style and writing techniques are not the same as they were in the nineteenth century. This makes On Liberty a difficult book to read. His book is very decriptive, yet his wording is not easily understadable and some paragraphs have to be read two or three times to fully understand what he is writing about. Aside from his writing style, John Stuart Mill has put together an essay full of educated ideas about society and individuals. John Stuart Mill wrote an informative book geared towards an educated audience.Read more ›
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