On Liberty

1081 Words5 Pages
Analysis & Critique of
J.S. Mill's On Liberty

The perception of liberty has been an issue that has bewildered the human race for a long time. It seems with every aspiring leader comes a new definition of liberty, some more realistic than others. We have seen, though, that some tend to have a grasp of what true liberty is. One of these scholars was the English philosopher and economist J.S. Mill. Mill's On Liberty provided a great example of what, in his opinion, liberty is and how it is to be protected. In this essay we will examine Mill's ideals concerning liberty and point out a few things he may not have been realistic about.

For Mill, liberty is defined by, "the nature and limits of the power of which can be legitimately exercised by society over the individual." Mill's stance is that society can step in only when the action of the individual causes harm to others. Interference for any other reason is unwarranted and only hinders the development of society as a whole. When these liberties are preserved the end result is freedom, and true freedom, according to Mill, is pursuing one's own good in which ever way they deem fit, so long as it doesn't bring harm to others. And here in lies the problem, It is human nature to believe that you are right and the other is wrong. This concept, which seems to be hard wired into all of us, leads to the disapproval, which leads to anger, which in turn leads to suppression. This is the one thing that must be avoided. Across history there are examples of government, or society, stifling the voice of opposition. Though we may think we are right, that doesn't give us the right to keep others from expressing their own opinions and ideas.

To take away an individual's ability to think and feel for itself is to rob them of the greatest part of being alive. Along with that you are robbing yourself of the knowledge that they posses, which is retarding your growth as a person. According to Mill, we dare not quiet the voice of opposition for there is a good chance that that voice is correct. The truths of life are an ever evolving concept. Things that were thought to be true have falling time and time again, and if we are honestly trying to find out these truths we must listen and argue every ...

... middle of paper ...

...t would be structured like, with the three branches and currency. Mill has more of an ideal that he would like to project onto a society. Both believe a government's priority is to protect the freedom of its citizens, and if it does not accomplish this then it is the populations duty to relieve it of its power.

I myself agree with a lot of what Mill says. We do need to let people express themselves even when what they say and do angers us. For what we say and do my anger them just the same, and no one would like to be silenced. Tolerance is a virtue that we all need in our everyday lives. But the problem is implementing this into a society that preaches free speech, but doesn't always back it up. People here don't want to hear those who oppose. Though we don't directly stifle their voice, we don't take the time to hear what they have to say. Now isn't that in the same ballpark as suppressing someone's ideas, not taking the time to hear the ideas and to form educated opinions of them. "If a tree fall in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" Wouldn't that same thing apply to someone talking and nobody listening?

More about On Liberty

Open Document