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The Nature of Man According to John Stuart Mill - Book Report/Review Example

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The Nature of Man According to John Stuart Mill

In the course of On Liberty, Mill states two principles of demarcation. Although Mill raises serious objections to his first principle that suggests that the "only legitimate grounds for social coercion is to prevent someone from doing harm to others" (Mill, 1978, xv), he then suggests its defect by illustrating a second principle of demarcation. Although stating objections to his own principles, Mill attempts to allow the reader to appreciate the problem that he is addressing and to participate in his critical inquiry. (Mill, 1978, xvi) The basic subject of his essay remains a philosophical necessity, as it explains the "nature and limits of the power which can be legitimately exercised by society over the individual". (Mill, 1978, 1) As Mill remains a figure of direct contribution, his inquiries uncover the struggle between liberty and authority. Specifically, through a historical context, Mill's contribution finds itself dealing with the earliest and most familiar area of authority, particularly in that of Greece, Rome, and England. (Mill, 1978, 1) Accordingly, the liberty of an individual associates its meaning as "the protection against the tyranny of the political rulers." (Mill, 1978, 1) Mill assesses the idea of society and its ability to execute wrong mandates instead of right, in which he claims it "practices a social tyranny" because it objects to the formation of any individuality that may form as a result of independent ideas and practices. (Mill, 1978, 1) Mill continues to debate that authorities drive individuals to act as they would like them to act, in that the regulation of human conduct is measured by the governing regulation of the ruler. (Mill, 1978, 5) Through Mill's initial principle of demarcation, which identifies that the only grounds for regulation are to prevent harm to others, he finds his basic objection. Mill asserts that "the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others." (Mill, 1978, 9) Therefore, individuality must be suppressed in order to prevent harm to others; however the problem lies in the suppression of individuality itself. Mill addresses that human liberty comprises: "first, the inward domain of consciousness, demanding liberty of conscience in the most comprehensive sense, liberty of thought and feeling, absolute freedom of opinion and sentiment on all subjects, practical or speculative, scientific, moral, or theological." (Mill, 1978, 11) It is only through free and consent participation to society's sphere that individuality can be maintained. Society has power in forcing opinion and legislation over the individual, which works only to strengthen society and "diminish the power of the individual". (Mill, 1978, 13) Thus, Mill leads into his discussion regarding the liberty of though ...Show more

Summary

The topic concerning the nature of human beings has been a popular and controversial focus in both social and political thought. The most elaborate view on this subject matter has been argued by an extremely influential philosophical mind whose essay, On Liberty, remains as the essential starting point for discussion of this problem of democratic society…
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The Nature of Man According to John Stuart Mill essay example
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