Thursday, February 23, 2012

On Liberty - John Stuart Mill

Mill was raised by his father, James Mill, to be a strict Utilitarian. Mill's childhood was rigid, and he suffered a nervous breakdown at twenty-one when he began to question some of his beliefs. Mill later struggled with his sense that Utilitarianism was too unemotional and that it failed to capture or understand the "higher" pleasures. On Liberty can be understood as an attempt to broaden the meaning of utility and show that Utilitarianism can provide a strong protection of rights. The essay also reflects Mill's passionate belief that individuality is something that should be protected and nurtured. As such, the essay illustrates his disgust at how he believed society squelches nonconformity...

"The subject of this Essay is not the so-called Liberty of the Will, so unfortunately opposed to the misnamed doctrine of Philosophical Necessity; but Civil, or Social Liberty: the nature and limits of the power which can be legitimately exercised by society over the individual..."

"Whenever there is an ascendant class, a large portion of the morality of the country emanates from its class interests and its feeling of class superiority..."

"The majority have not yet learned to fuel the power of the government with their power, or its opinions their opinions. When they do so, individual liberty will probably be as much exposed to invasion from the government as it already is from public opinion..."

"The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any person of society, against his will, is to prevent harm to others..."

"Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign..."

"The tyranny of opinion is such as to make eccentricity a reproach..."

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Henry V - William Shakespeare

In this essay, I will examine the rhetorical and dramatic effectiveness of King Henry’s speech to the Governor of Harfluer in Act 3 Scene 4 ...