John Stuart Mill

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In proportion as the people are accustomed to manage their affairs by their own active intervention, instead of leaving them to the government, their desires will turn to repelling tyranny, rather than to tyrannizing: while in proportion as all ready initiative and direction resides in the government, and individuals habitually feel and act as under its perpetual tutelage, popular institutions develop in them not the desire of freedom, but an unmeasured appetite for place and power.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Government
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In this age, the mere example of non-conformity, the mere refusal to bend the knee to custom, is itself a service. Precisely because the tyranny of opinion is such as to make eccentricity a reproach, it is desirable, in order to break through that tyranny, that people should be eccentric. Eccentricity has always abounded when and where strength of character has abounded; and the amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigor, and moral courage which it contained. That so few now dare to be eccentric, marks the chief danger of the time.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Character
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To say that secular means irreligious implies that all the arts and sciences are irreligious, and is very like saying that all professions except that of the law are illegal.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Art
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There is never any fair and thorough discussion of heretical opinions... The greatest harm done is to those who are not heretics, and whose whole mental development is cramped and their reason cowed, by the fear of heresy.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Speech
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Every one is degraded, whether aware of it or not, when other people, without consulting him, take upon themselves unlimited power to regulate his destiny.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Destiny
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All social inequalities which have ceased to be considered expedient, assume the character not of simple inexpediency, but of injustice, and appear so tyrannical, that people are apt to wonder how they ever could have. been tolerated; forgetful that they themselves perhaps tolerate other inequalities under an equally mistaken notion of expediency, the correction of which would make that which they approve seem quite as monstrous as what they have at last learnt to condemn.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Character
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Christian morality (so called) has all the characters of a reaction; it is, in great part, a protest against Paganism. Its ideal is negative rather than positive; passive rather than action; innocence rather than Nobleness; Abstinence from Evil, rather than energetic Pursuit of Good: in its precepts (as has been well said) "thou shalt not" predominates unduly over "thou shalt.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Christian
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Art is the employent of the powers of nature for an end.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Art
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[A] man and still more the woman, who can be accused either of doing "what nobody does," or of not doing "what everybody does," is the subject of as much depreciatory remark as if he or she had committed some grave moral delinquency.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Men
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Every man who says frankly and fully what he thinks is so far doing a public service. We should be grateful to him for attacking most unsparingly our most cherished opinions.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Freedom
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Men are men before they are lawyers, or physicians, or merchants, or manufacturers; and if you make them capable and sensible men, they will make themselves capable and sensible lawyers or physicians.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Men
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It is not the feeling sure of a doctrine (be it what it may) which I call an assumption of infallibility. It is the undertaking to decide that question for others, without allowing them to hear what can be said on the contrary side. And I denounce and reprobate this pretension not the less, if put forth on the side of my most solemn convictions.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Feelings
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The idea is essentially repulsive, of a society held together only by the relations and feelings arising out of pecuniary interest.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Ideas
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A people may prefer a free government, but if, from indolence, or carelessness, or cowardice, or want of public spirit, they are unequal to the exertions necessary for preserving it. They are more or less unfit for liberty; and although it may be for their good to have had it even for a short time, they are unlikely long to enjoy it
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Government
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A government with all this mass of favours to give or to withhold, however free in name, wields a power of bribery scarcely surpassed by an avowed autocracy, rendering it master of the elections in almost any circumstances but those of rare and extraordinary public excitement.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Government
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It would not be easy even for an unbeliever, to find a better translation of the rule of virtue from the abstract into the concrete, than to endeavor so to live that Christ would approve our life.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Christ
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Not only the grounds of the opinion are forgotten in the absence of discussion, but too often the meaning of the opinion itself... Instead of a vivid conception and a living belief, there remain only a few phrases retained by rote; or, if any part, the shell and husk only of the meaning is retained, the finer essence being lost.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Essence
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To mistake money for wealth, is the same sort of error as to mistake the highway which may be the easiest way of getting to your house or lands, for the house and lands themselves.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Mistake
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The reasons for legal intervention in favour of children apply not less strongly to the case of those unfortunate slaves and victims of the most brutal part of mankind - the lower animals.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Children
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I did not mean that Conservatives are generally stupid; I meant, that stupid persons are generally Conservative. I believe that to be so obvious and undeniable a fact that I hardly think any hon. Gentleman will question it.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Stupid
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The natural tendency of representative government, as of modern civilisation, is towards collective mediocrity: and this tendency is increased by all reductions and extensions of the franchise, their effect being to place the principal power in the hands of classes more and more below the highest level of instruction in the community.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Government
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Photography is a brief complicity between foresight and luck.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Photography
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Most boys or youths who have had much knowledge drilled into them, have their mental capacities not strengthened, but overlaid by it. They are crammed with mere facts, and with the opinions and phrases of other people, and these are accepted as a substitute for the power to form opinions of their own. And thus, the sons of eminent fathers, who have spared no pains in their education, so often grow up mere parroters of what they have learnt, incapable of using their minds except in the furrows traced for them.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Growing Up
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The study of science teaches young men to think, while study of the classics teaches them to express thought.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Science
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But society has now fairly got the better of individuality; and the danger which threatens human nature is not the excess, but the deficiency, of personal Impulses and preferences.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Individuality
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A being who can create a race of men devoid of real freedom and inevitably foredoomed to be sinners, and then punish them for being what he has made them, may be omnipotent and various other things, but he is not what the English language has always intended by the adjective holy.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: God
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In a really equal democracy, every or any section would be represented, not disproportionately, but proportionately. ... Unless they are, there is not equal government, but a government of inequality and privilege: one part of the people rule over the rest: there is a part whose fair and equal share of influence in the representation is withheld from them, contrary to all just government, but, above all, contrary to the principle of democracy, which professes equality as its very root and foundation.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Roots
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The principles which men profess on any controverted subject are usually a very incomplete exponent of the opinions they really hold.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Men
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We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavoring to stifle is a false opinion; and if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Evil
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Next to selfishness the principal cause which makes life unsatisfactory is want of mental cultivation.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Selfishness
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So long as an opinion is strongly rooted in the feelings, it gains rather than loses in stability by having a preponderating weight of argument against it.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Long
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All attempts by the State to bias the conclusions of its citizens on disputed subjects, are evil.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Evil
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The world would be astonished if it knew how great a proportion of its brightest ornaments, of those distinguished even in popular estimation for wisdom and virtue, are complete sceptics in religion.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Religion
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Landlords grow rich in their sleep without working, risking or economizing. The increase in the value of land, arising as it does from the efforts of an entire community, should belong to the community and not to the individual who might hold title.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Sleep
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A general State education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another, and as the mould in which it casts them is that which pleases the dominant power in the government.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: School Education
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On religion in particular, the time appears to me to have come, when it is a duty of all who, being qualified in point of knowledge, have, on mature consideration, satisfied themselves that the current opinions are not only false, but hurtful, to make their dissent known.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Hurtful
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Liberty consists in doing what one desires.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Philosophical
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It's hardly possible to overstate the value, in the present state of human improvement, of placing human beings in contact with other persons dissimilar to themselves, and with modes of thought and action unlike those with which they are familiar. Such communication has always been... one of the primary sources of progress.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Communication
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No one can be a great thinker who does not recognize that as a thinker it is his first duty to follow his intellect to whatever conclusions it may lead.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: May
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It is historically true that a large proportion of infidels in all ages have been persons of distinguished integrity and honor.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Integrity
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Trade is a social act. Whoever undertakes to sell any description of any goods to the public, does what affects the interest of other persons, and of society in general; and thus his conduct, in principal, comes within the jurisdiction of society.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Doe
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Among the facts of the universe to be accounted for, it may be said, is Mind; and it is self evident that nothing can have produced Mind but Mind.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Philosophy
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I will call no being good who is not what I mean when I apply that epithet to my fellow creatures; and if such a creature can sentence me to hell for not so calling him, to hell I will go .
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Mean
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The English, of all ranks and classes, are at bottom, in all their feelings, aristocrats. They have some concept of liberty, and set some value on it, but the very idea of equality is strange and offensive to them. They do not dislike to have many people above them as long as they have some below them.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Class
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Ask yourself whether you are happy and you cease to be so. The only chance is to treat not happiness, but some end external to it, as the purpose of life.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Purpose
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If I have accomplished anything, I owe it, among other fortunate circumstances, to the fact that through the early training bestowed on me by my father, I started, I may fairly say, with an advantage of a quarter of a century over my contemporaries.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Father
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In its narrowest acceptation, order means obedience. A government is said to preserve order if it succeeds in getting itself obeyed.
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Mean
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[I] put the question directly to myself: "Suppose that all your objects in life were realized; that all the changes in institutions and opinions which you are looking forward to, could be completely effected at this very instant: would this be a great joy and happiness to you?" And an irrepressible self-consciousness distinctly answered, "No!
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Self
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Even if the received opinion be not only true, but the whole truth; unless it is suffered to be, and actually is, vigorously and earnestly contested, it will, by most of those who receive it, be held in the manner of a prejudice, with little comprehension or feeling of its rational grounds
- John Stuart Mill
Collection: Truth