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John Stuart Mill

John Stuart Mill (1806-73) was the most influential English language philosopher of the nineteenth century. He was a naturalist, a utilitarian, and today he is seen as having been a foremost liberal (as was John Locke in the late 1600s). He was the author of On Liberty (published 1859) a decade after Marx's Communist Manifesto.

He was strong on individuality and freedom of speech for adults. He wrote:

If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of 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.

He favored the liberty of citizens controlling the tyranny of government. And he worried about a "tyranny of the majority." He said that protection "against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling" can be harder. (He believed in the right of individuals to be free from religion.)

Mill held 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 believed that free markets were preferable to those controlled by governments, that economies function best when left to their own devices. His book titled "Principles" dominated economics teaching from the mid-1800s and at Oxford University it was the standard text until 1919, when it was replaced by Marshall's Principles of Economics.

Mill knew little of Marx's work. Both believed progress driven by humanity was possible. Both saw human freedom as an end in itself, but they differed in their understanding of an individual's relationship to his community, and they differed in their advocacy for change.

A member of Britain's Liberal Party, Mill was the second Member of Parliament to call for women's suffrage.

No dummy, and smarter even than Donald Trump claims himself to be, Wikipedia describes Mill as having been a precocious child:

At the age of three he was taught Greek. By the age of eight, he had read Aesop's Fables, Xenophon's Anabasis, and the whole of Herodotus, and was acquainted with Lucian, Diogenes Laërtius, Isocrates and six dialogues of Plato. He had also read a great deal of history in English and had been taught arithmetic, physics and astronomy. At the age of eight, Mill began studying Latin, the works of Euclid, and algebra.


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