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John Stuart Mill

Posted to Poetry and Politics




There is never any fair and thorough discussion of heretical opinions ….. The greatest harm done is to those who are not heretics, and whose whole mental development is cramped and there reason cowed, by the fear of heresy.

No one can be a great thinker who does not recognize, that as a thinker it is his first duty to follow his intellect to whatever conclusions it may lead.

Culture without freedom never made a large and liberal mind.

Truth, in the great practical concerns of life, is so much a question of the reconciling and combining of opposites, that very few have minds sufficiently capacious and impartial to make the adjustment with an approach to correctness.

If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.
But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race: posterity as well as the existing generations: those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong they lose, what is always as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.

Christian morality (so-called) has all the characters of a reaction: …. Its ideal is negative rather than positive: passive rather than active: Innocence rather than Nobleness : Abstinence from Evil, rather than energetic pursuit of Good … it holds out the hope of heaven and the threat of hell, as the appointed and appropriate motives to a virtuous life: in this falling far below the best of the ancients, and doing what lies in it to give to human morality an essentially selfish character …. It is essentially the doctrine of passive obedience: it inculcates submission to all authorities found established.

Whatever crushes individuality is despotism.

Mankind are then divided into those who are still what they were, and those who have changed:
Into the men of the present age, and the men of the past. To the former, the spirit of the age is subject of exultation: to the latter, of terror.


John Stuart Mill