John Stuart Mill

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Strong impulses are but another name for energy. Energy may be turned to bad uses; but more good may always be made of an energetic nature, than of an indolent and impassive one.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Strong
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History shows that great economic and social forces flow like a tide over communities only half conscious of that which is befalling them. Wise statesmen foresee what time is thus bringing, and try to shape institutions and mold men's thoughts and purposes in accordance with the change that is silently coming on. The unwise are those who bring nothing constructive to the process, and who greatly imperil the future of mankind by leaving great questions to be fought out between ignorant change on one hand and ignorant opposition to change on the other.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Wise
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The best state for human nature is that in which, while no one is poor, no one desires to be richer, nor has any reason to fear from thrust back, by the efforts of others to push themselves forward.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Effort
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Stupidity is much the same all the world over
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Stupidity
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[My father] impressed upon me from the first, that the manner in which the world came into existence was a subject on which nothing was known: that the question, "Who made me?" cannot be answered, because we have no experience or authentic information from which to answer it; and that any answer only throws the difficulty a step further back, since the question immediately presents itself, "Who made God?
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Father
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I have observed that not the man who hopes when others despair, but the man who despairs when others hope, is admired by a large class of persons as a sage.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Men
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Whatever helps to shape the human being - to make the individual what he is, or hinder him from being what he is not - is part of his education.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Growth
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Each undervalues that part of the materials of thought with which he is not familiar.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Familiar
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But these few are the salt of the earth; without them, human life would become a stagnant pool. Not only is it they who introduce good things which did not before exist, it is they who keep the life in those which already existed.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Individuality
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If religious belief be indeed so necessary to mankind, as we are continually assured that it is, there is great reason to lament, that the intellectual grounds of it should require to be backed by moral bribery or subornation of the understanding.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Religious
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Political Economy, in truth, has never pretended to give advice to mankind with no lights but its own; though people who knew nothing but political economy (and therefore knew it ill) have taken upon themselves to advise, and could only do so by such lights as they had.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Taken
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All errors which a man is likely to commit against advice are far outweighed by the evil of allowing others to constrain him for his good.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Men
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All acts suppose certain dispositions, and habits of mind and heart, which may be in themselves states of enjoyment or of wretchedness, and which must be fruitful in other consequences besides those particular acts.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Heart
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Among a people without fellow-feeling, especially if they read and speak different languages, the united public opinion, necessary to the working of the representative government, cannot exist.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Government
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Few human creatures would consent to be changed into any of the lower animals for a promise of the fullest allowance of a beast's pleasures; no intelligent human being would consent to be a fool, no instructed person would be an ignoramus, no person of feeling and conscience would be selfish and base, even though they should be persuaded that the fool, the dunce, or the rascal is better satisfied with his lot than they are with theirs.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Selfish
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Human existence is girt round with mystery: the narrow region of our experience is a small island in the midst of a boundless sea. To add to the mystery, the domain of our earthly existence is not only an island of infinite space, but also in infinite time. The past and the future are alike shrouded from us: we neither know the origin of anything which is, nor its final destination.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Past
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What a country wants to make it richer is never consumption, but production. Where there is the latter, we may be sure that there is no want of the former. To produce, implies that the producer de_sires to consume; why else should he give himself useless labor? He may not wish to consume what he himself produces, but his motive for producing and selling is the desire to buy. Therefore, if the producers generally produce and sell more and more, they certainly also buy more and more.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Country
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It is useful that while mankind are imperfect there should be different opinions, so is it that there should be different experiments of living; that free scope should be given to varieties of character, short of injury to others.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Character
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The strongest of all arguments against the interference of the public with purely personal conduct, is that when it does interfere, the odds are that it interferes wrongly, and in the wrong place.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Odds
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When a thing is bought not for its use but for its costliness, cheapness is no recommendation. As Sismondi remarks, the consequence of cheapening articles of vanity, is not that less is expended on such things, but that the buyers substitute for the cheapened article some other which is more costly, or a more elaborate quality of the same thing; and as the inferior quality answered the purpose of vanity equally well when it was equally expensive, a tax on the article is really paid by nobody: it is a creation of public revenue by which nobody loses.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Vanity
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This is what writers mean when they say that the notion of cause involves the idea of necessity. If there be any meaning which confessedly belongs to the term necessity, it is unconditionalness. That which is necessary, that which must be, means that which will be, whatever supposition we may make in regard to all other things.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Mean
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There is always need of persons not only to discover new truths, and point out when what were once truths are true no longer, but also to commence new practices, and set the example of more enlightened conduct, and better taste and sense in human life.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Practice
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To think that because those who wield power in society wield in the end that of government, therefore it is of no use to attempt to influence the constitution of the government by acting on opinion, is to forget that opinion is itself one of the greatest active social forces. One person with a belief is a social power equal to ninety-nine who have only interests.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Thinking
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The demand for commodities is not the demand for labor.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Demand
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It appears, then, to be a condition of a genuinely scientific hypothesis, that it be not destined always to remain an hypothesis, but be certain to be either proved or disproved by.. .comparison with observed facts.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Science
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Almost all rich veins of original and striking speculation have been opened by systematic half-thinkers.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Intellectual
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Persons of genius are, ex vi termini, more individual than any other people - less capable, consequently, of fitting themselves, without hurtful compression, into any of the small number of moulds which society provides in order to save its members the trouble of forming their character.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Character
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It can do truth no service to blind the fact, known to all who have the most ordinary acquaintance with literary history, that a large portion of the noblest and most valuable moral teaching has been the work not only of men who did not know, but of men who knew and rejected the Christian faith.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Christian
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Money is a machine for doing quickly and commodiously what would be done, though less quickly and commodiously, without it.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Would Be
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And it is not difficult to show, by abundant instances, that to extend the bounds of what may be called moral police, until it encroaches on the most unquestionably legitimate liberty of the individual, is one of the most universal of all human propensities.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Police
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What citizens of a free country would listen to any offers of good and skillful administration in return for the abdication of freedom?
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Country
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War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice; a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their own free choice - is often the means of their regeneration.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: War
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So much barbarism, however, still remains in the transactions of most civilized nations, that almost all independent countries choose to assert their nationality by having, to their inconvenience and that of their neighbors, a peculiar currency of their own.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Country
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There is no 'one-size-fits-all' way to build an audience.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Book
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...it is not only the general principles of justice that are infringed, or at least set aside, by the exclusion of women, merely as women, from any share in the representation; that exclusion is also repugnant to the particular principles of the British Constitution. It violates one of the oldest of our constitutional maxims...that taxation and representation should be co-extensive. Do not women pay taxes?
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Justice
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The majority, being satisfied with the ways of mankind as they now are (for it is they who make them what they are), cannot comprehend why those ways should not be good enough for everybody; and what is more, spontaneity forms no part of the ideal of the majority of moral and social reformers, but is rather looked on with jealousy, as a troublesome and perhaps rebellious obstruction to the general acceptance of what these reformers, in their own judgment, think would be best for mankind.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Acceptance
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The bad workmen who form the majority of the operatives in many branches of industry are decidedly of opinion that bad workmen ought to receive the same wages as good.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Work
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The true virtue of human beings is fitness to live together as equals; claiming nothing for themselves but what they as freely concede to everyone else; regarding command of any kind as an exceptional neccessity, and in all cases a temporary one.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Together
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The prevailing tendency to regard all the marked distinctions of human character as innate, and in the main indelible, and to ignore the irresistible proofs that by far the greater part of those differences, whether between individuals, races, or sexes are such as not only might but naturally would be produced by differences in circumstances, is one of the chief hinderances to the rational treatment of great social questions, and one of the greatest stumbling blocks to human improvement.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Sex
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Seeming contentment is real discontent, combined with indolence or self-indulgence, which, while taking no legitimate means of raising itself, delights in bringing others down to its own level.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Real
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Any society which is not improving is deteriorating, and the more so the closer and more familiar it is. Even a really superior man almost always begins to deteriorate when he is habitually king of his company.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Kings
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In proportion to the development of his individuality, each person becomes more valuable to others. There is a greater fullness of life about his own existence, and when there is more life in the units there is more in the mass which is composed of them.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Fullness Of Life
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Was there ever any domination that did not appear natural to those who possessed it?
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Natural
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The moment one asks himself whether he is happy, he ceases to be so.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Moments
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There is one characteristic of the present direction of public opinion, peculiarly calculated to make it intolerant of any marked demonstration of individuality. The general average of mankind are not only moderate in intellect, but also moderate in inclinations: they have no tastes or wishes strong enough to incline them to do anything unusual, and they consequently do not understand those who have, and class all such with the wild and intemperate whom they are accustomed to look down upon.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Strong
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All free communities have both been more exempt from social injustice and crime, and have attained more brilliant prosperity, than any others, or than they themselves after they have lost their freedom.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Community
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It is as certain that many opinions, now general, will be rejected by future ages, as it is that many, once general, are rejected by the present.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Age
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The guesses which serve to give mental unity and wholeness to a chaos of scattered particulars, are accidents which rarely occur to any minds but those abounding in knowledge and disciplined in intellectual combinations.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Discipline
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Human beings are not like sheep; and even sheep are not undistinguishably alike. A man cannot get a coat or a pair oboots to fit him, unless they are either made to his measure, or he has a whole warehouseful to choose from: and is it easier to fit him with a life than with a coat, or are human beings more like one another in their whole physical and spiritual conformation than in the shape of their feet? If it were only that people have diversities of taste, that is reason enough for not attempting to shape them all after one model.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Spiritual