John Stuart Mill

1806 –1873
AF 4 J S Mill blockhead.
James Mill his father, one of those Scottish extremist ultra enthusiasts one used to get at the time. J S Mill, the perfect educational product of the English enlightenment. All his inconsistencies perhaps these should be seen in relation to the fact that he had what amounted to a deep religious commitment to aspects of a rationalistic faith from which he could never be expected to break free, The rest of us have different starting points from him. In a way he was a freak. What made him a blockhead was that for all his intellect he could hardly be committed to pure logic or pure reason in certain fields. The difficulties he feels cannot be lightly avoided by changing g his opinion.
In his Utilitarianism, for example, one might compare him with a Christian grappling with some of the intellectual difficulties of his faith, and trying to produce a more up to date and enlightened version of it.
A phenomenon of the Victorian age. To say he was indoctrinated means more than that the truth of certain theories was implanted in his brain. On Hartley principles he was given an emotional disposition towards “virtue” What may be thought a type of secularised Christian prejudice.
Contrast his education with that of De Sade or Squire Western of Western “one bred up from infancy where no one dared to contradict his arguments or control his conduct” (Scott)
Screwed up personality, screwed up adolescence.
There were admirable things about Mill. His libertarianism. His anti Prohibitionism.

Mill on the Subjection of Women. The total perniciousness of the doctrine of total equality. The assault on the idea of truth discovered.
In saying women are not equal to men it is not even my intention to say they are unequal. It is that the whole idea of equality is a blast of bad air upon anything outstanding or exceptional. Anyone who bases his right to heard or respected on a doctrine of equality deserves merely contempt.

8& I would say Mill is quite right when he says that the study of Hegel’s philosophy would tend to deprave the intellect. Looking for intellectualisations which serve to explain nothing at all. A substitute for explanation, this arrangement into pseudo logical pseudo scientific forms.
Mill in his economic thought insisting on aversion to labour as one of the mainsprings of human behaviour.

Influenced be De Tocqueville, which says well for him.
I do not think the Britton book on Mill is particularly good, especially the chapters on logic and science. He is too much concerned to update Mill’s ideas, rather than put them in a historical context. He says that Mill’s interest in logic and science is primarily ethical and political, he does not expand on this. He calls Mill’s doctrine of perception crude, to me is seems not much cruder than other philosophical doctrines.
Reading Passmore on Mill. It is clear that Mill was one of Nietzsche’s main opponents. Mill had a programme for the future construction of society. His System of Logic was meant as a foundation for all science, including social science. The psychological system on which Mill based a lot of his thought was the associaltionism of Hartley. From this deeply inadequate psychological theory he derived such ideas as that in The Subjection of Women that there is no significant psychological difference between men and women.
Mill may be considered Nietzsche’s chief opponent in the cultural sense. .This is the role of philosopher as legislator in the religious sense. The kind of philosophy for which Plethon was eminent.

BE 108 Dicey says Benthamism was all about liberty and Mill’s Liberty essay was its final expression/

114 I had a feeling that in his treatment of Mill’s Liberty and its effects he showing some inconsistency.
What Dicey says about Mill. About the increased freedom of discussion and opinion which undermined the unity that undermined the Benthamite reforms.. Powerful influence of Mill on opinion. Lucidity of his writing, insularity of his thought.
Dickens and Mill both sensitive to and expressing the currents of thought of the age.

119 Nietzsche saw Mill as promoting pity in England as Schopenhauer in Germany. BC 11 Will Hutton. This ideology of equality clashes with traditional ideas of English freedom. Milton, Mill etc. In his view of enlightenment Britain is an irrelevance.

106 How Lange was originally a follower of Mill and Marx. (Erdmann)
AR 362 One clings to the principles of freedom like mill’s liberty, as defences against the dark tyranny of democracy.

AZ 156 Von Humboldt maximising individuality. Mill’s reference to him in Liberty

IX 187 A D Lindsay tied to pervert Mill claiming him to be too short-sighted to perceive the benefits of socialism and mass democracy. I think that Mill was fully aware of what he was dong, and took up a stand which would be hostile to many of our modern developments. I do not think his essay is any more shallow than most of his opponents and would be a pleasing starting point for thought on society insofar as it takes about freedom of thought., expression and character on infallibility, the benefits of free discussion human diversity and the like Socialism really cannot care for all this.

Mill’s concern was to allow individual stars to expand as much as they can without obstructing others. Socialism would channel expansion, assuming infallibility would employ the monster psychiatrist to certify as insane the Marquis De Sade and morally condemn people for not pulling their weight in a gigantic collective exercise that nobody really longs for but which everyone is afraid of forgoing.
It is liberty of thought that is most important, the liberty to think the unthinkable.. to take democracy for grunted is abominable, even more abominable is the emasculation of the thinkers of the past. Often the emasculation is deliberate and conscious, what should be counted as a premeditated crime. Belittling one part of a thinker or man of actionasue we do not agree with it.. this is presumption of the highest and most insidious order.
If that is your value is truthfulness. Dare I say that only cynicism or stupidity could make a man fundamentally disagree with what Mill says about the value of liberty taken in its most general sense as a disquisition on the merits of free thought?
But every opponent of Mill must be able to answer him and absorb him not to deserve the epithet stupid. He cannot see the opposite point of view

AS 41 For Mill. Why the intellectual must support a doctrine of liberty. For the same reason that the Norman barons supported liberty against the king. Despotic power unless it is one’s own is likely to be used against one.

183 James Fitz-James Stephen and his objections to Mill’s On Liberty. Basically what he demands is also freedom, in =this case the freedom to coerce. this may be conceived as the freedom of the rulers to coerce the ruled.

AH 178 Who is bad, who is evil? Urge to burn more brightly. Lack of benevolence. Christian ideal is of love thy neighbour i.e. of disinterested benevolence.. Utilitarianism may be said to be an exploration of this. Christianity turned into a purely rationalistic framework. Mill a fundamentally good sort, explored it from the inside and tried to overcome some of its difficulties.

187 Compulsory benevolences established as a value by those in a position to fear the possible malevolence of the powerful. Utilitarianism is interesting because it explores and systemises this fundamental principle of Christianity, making it the foundation of socialisation. Js mill was led to modify it much as Christianity took on board chunks of paganism, like platonist philosophy, It has continued to provide much of the Dynamic of western civilisation, like the imperialistic or universalising principle behind democracy, foreign policy.

AI 95 Mill was sympathetic to De Tocqueville and depressed by advancing mediocrity. Also his views were individualistic in origin and orientation, precisely like Nietzsche’s, unlike someone like Durkheim or Hegel. So Mill, though a blockhead, is dealing with some of the right issues. He just gets them wrong.

Considering Mill There is an apparent conflict between his commitment to liberty and his sympathies with the socialist St Simonians, looking forward to a new “organic “ phase of society.

He obviously bridges the gap with his associationism, his plans for education.
Themes that come out. This removal of the idea of liberty from protestant rebellion, such as we find in Cromwell and Milton, which inspired the English 18th century.. the work of the French Revolution. Also how the Kantian will fits in here. See the will to power theory as a basis for rejecting associationism. This psychological theory which undermines liberty.
James Mill and Hartley. Think of the flaws from the viewpoint of will to power. Think of how we can say the theory is actually wrong. This pleasure pain mechanism this unlimited conditionability, malleability of man. Where exactly is the error?

238 Mill on the contribution of his wife to Liberty. His views on the American civil war, the centrality of the salver y issue, the support for the south of most English classes/
Influence of French socialism on his ideas.
Associationism, so much to do with the perspective with which we look at it.

In nineteenth century Britain, unlike the modern US, people who opposed Mill didn't need to pretend they actually believed in liberty, thereby debasing the concept. James Fitz Stephen wrote against him from a crudely utilitarian viewpoint (greatest happiness principle). He was a judge in British India, and he valued the power to enforce moral values with floggings etc.

Mill he was so anti-prohibition that he supported the opium wars on libertarian grounds, as he says in his Essay.

I suppose I could say I support the idea of liberty you find expressed in J S Mill's essay on the subject. I believe his position there is coherent.

It's an idea that has played a large part in recent western history. I always refer to J S Mill's On Liberty. A lot of people like to blur the concept by conflating liberty with other values.

Decency, fairness, courtesy, is what Will Hutton calls the political correctness that is to ringfence his chosen ideology of equality.

What he dresses up as decency is merely his own desire for a particular set of doctrines to be in power. On his tendentious interpretation of history, ‘fairness’, meaning openness to the drive to the socialistic future state he envisages, is what British character is about. This conflicts with traditional ideas of English freedom from Milton to JS Mill, and the more usual understanding of Britain's place in history. English freedom has been much to do with resistance to specious theoretically based claims to enlightenment. It is practically grounded, rejecting the abstract enthusiasm for rule by a class of supposedly enlightened intellectuals.

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