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The Basic Writings of John Stuart Mill: On Liberty, The Subjection of Women and Utilitarianism (Modern Library Classics) [Paperback]

By John Stuart Mill, J. B. Schneewind (Introduction by) & Dale E. Miller (Contributor)
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Item Specifications...

Pages   400
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8" Width: 5.2" Height: 0.9"
Weight:   0.65 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 14, 2002
Publisher   Modern Library
ISBN  0375759182  
EAN  9780375759185  

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Item Description...
The writings of John Stuart Mill have become the cornerstone of political liberalism. Collected for the first time in this volume are Mill's three seminal and most widely read works: "On Liberty, The Subjection of Women, and Utilitarianism." A brilliant defense of individual rights versus the power of the state, "On Liberty" is essential reading for anyone interested in political thought and theory. As Bertrand Russell reflected, "On Liberty remains a classic . . . the present world would be better than it is, if Mill's] principles were more respected."
This Modern Library Paperback Classics edition includes newly commissioned endnotes and commentary by Dale E. Miller, and an index.

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More About John Stuart Mill, J. B. Schneewind & Dale E. Miller

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! John Stuart Mill (1806-73) was educated by his father and through his influence obtained a clerkship at India House. He formed the Utilitarian Society which met to read and discuss essays, and in 1825 he edited Bentham s Treatise upon Evidence. In 1826 he suffered an acute mental crisis and found that poetry helped him recover the will to live, particularly the work of Wordsworth. Having reconsidered his aims and those of the Benthamite school, he met Harriet Taylor and she inspired a great deal of his philosophy. They married in 1851. Utilitarianism was published in 1861 but before that Mill published his System of Logic (1843), Principles of Political Economy (1848) and On Liberty (1839). His other works include his classic Autobiography (1873). Mill retired in 1858 and became the independent MP for Westminster from 1865 to 1868. He spent the rest of his life in France and died in Avignon.
Alan Ryan has served as a judge for the Film Fantasy Awards and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. He regularly contributes to The Washington Post, USA Today, The Smithsonian, and Travel and Leisure, among other publications."

John Stuart Mill was born in 1806 and died in 1873.

John Stuart Mill has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Modern Library Classics (Paperback)

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
good way to get all three works  Mar 5, 2007
this isn't the highest quality paper, but it's an economical way to get three works. there is not much in the way of editorial content, but depending on your interests that may be fine.
The great defender of individual liberty  Dec 24, 2006
I read this book for a graduate class in Philosophy. Dr. Dale Miller who was the editor for this book was my professor. He is excellent and an expert on J. S. Mill. Recommended reading for anyone interested in philosophy, political science, and history.

John Stuart Mill, 1806-73, worked for the East India Co. helped run Colonial India from England. Minister of Parliament 1865-68 he served one term. Maiden speech was a disaster his second was great success. He was first MP to propose that women should be given the vote on equal footing with the men who could vote. He got 1/3 support, England gives franchise to women after U.S. He was a great Feminist, his essay "Subjection of Women" is written with great passion and prose. It was a brave position for him to take he was ridiculed for it. He favored democracy, and letting more men from lower classes the right to vote, but believed that people that are more educated should have more votes then less educated because they would make better decisions about what government should do. He would have wanted to extend education to the masses, so that all may have gotten 2-3 votes and so on. He didn't think it should be extended to where a small elite could carry the day on votes. The idea was that if the working class, and middle class, where divided on an issue, the people with more intelligence would have the power to tip the balance. Mill thought that people with more education would probably not only be better able to make political decisions, especially in terms of intellectually being able to see what would be best for the government to do, but that they would also be more concerned about the common good publicly then people in general. He was intensely educated by his father James. John could read Greek, and Latin at 6 yrs.; his Dad tutored him at home. Dad thought environment was everything. He was treated like an adult, never played games with kids; he had a very cerebral upbringing. He had a period of depression in his twenties, it changed his philosophy, and he recognized the importance of developing feelings along with the intellect, this is something that he stressed in his work. He read poetry to get out of depression; he became devoted to poetry and became a romantic. He fell in love with a married woman Harriet Taylor, was a platonic relationship, after her husband's death they married 3 years later and probably never consummated the marriage maybe due to Harriet having syphilis. His dedication to "On Liberty" is to her, very devoted to each other. Both buried together in Avignon France where they used to vacation.

Mill as a moral theorist subscribed to a theory we call Utilitarianism. It means---In some way morality is about the maximization of happiness. Whether actions are right or wrong depends on how happiness can be most effectively maximized. I say in some way, because there are allot of different kinds of Utilitarians. Allot of different ways of saying exactly how it is the maximization of happiness comes into morality. Therefore, happiness is clearly an important idea for Utilitarians. Mill has a hedonistic view of happiness, he thinks that happiness can be defined in terms of "pleasure in the absence of pain." What is distinctive about Mill in this area is that he believes that some kinds of pleasure are better than others are, and add more to a person's happiness than other kinds of pleasures. He believes in what he calls, "higher quality pleasures." These are pleasures, he says, that we get from the exercise of faculties that only human beings happen to have. So the intellect, imagination, the moral feelings, these are the sources of higher quality pleasures people use. His view seems to be that a certain quantity of intellectual pleasure just adds more to your happiness, and a given quantity of some lower pleasure like a kind we would share with the animals such as sensation, taste, sexual pleasure, etc. His "higher quality pleasures" in a way echo Aristotle's ethics. The idea of those things that make us distinctly human that are the real key to our happiness, that is in Mill also. It is not as limited to reason and intellect as Aristotle thinks. Mill recognizes the importance of the appreciation of beauty, aesthetic pleasure, and moral pleasure. He frankly owes a debt to Aristotle that he never properly acknowledges, never gives him proper credit.

"On Liberty" is Mill's is his most widely read and enduring work. It is an indispensable essay on political thought, which strenuously argues for individual liberty. He is defending what he calls the "liberty principle." It is a principle that guarantees individuals quite a bit of personal freedom. "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. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant." These quoted sentences in John Stuart Mill's book, "On Liberty," embody the crux of his argument; that the power of the state must intrude as little as possible on the liberty of its citizenry. In essence, Mill was against using the power of the state through its lawmaking apparatus to compel citizens to conduct themselves in ways that society deems moral or appropriate. Mill thought that people had not only a right, but also a duty to develop their intellectual faculties, which is indispensable to maximize their happiness. He believed that society improved for all its citizens when they where left unfettered to the maximum extent possible, allowing them to use their imagination and intellect to improve themselves. Mill postulates a theory that societies usually institute laws based primarily on "personal preference" of its citizenry instead of established principles. This lack of clarity of opinion often leads to the government frequently interfering in the lives of its citizens unnecessarily. For Mill, there are very few times when the state can infringe on the personal liberty of others. Firstly, the state has the right to promulgate laws that prevent a person's actions from harming others. Secondly, the state must protect those citizens who are not mature enough to protect themselves, such as children. Thirdly, he exempts, "... backward states of society in which the race itself may be considered as in its nonage." In Mill's view, immature societies need a benevolent leader to rule them until they have developed to a point where they, "... have attained the capacity of being guided to their own improvement by conviction or persuasion ..." Mill said this third exemption did not apply to any of the countries in Europe. Mill believed that forced morality by the state on its citizen's liberties was destructive to their inward development, and could even lead to a violent reaction by them against the government.

There are different parts of his defense of this, different arguments that he gives. He has a long chapter on freedom of speech and press. He has some very specific reasons why he thinks those freedoms are important. Always in the background for Mill is the idea of development, and making it possible for more people to enjoy these higher quality pleasures. How do we help people develop their distinctly human faculties, in ways that will help them enjoy their higher quality pleasures? Because for him that is the way, we maximize the total amount of happiness that is enjoyed in the world, and that is the object of morality as far as he is concerned. Utilitarianists believe that maximizing happiness is ultimately, what morality is all about. That does not mean maximizing your own happiness that means maximizing the total amount of happiness that is enjoyed, not only by yourself but also by everybody else as well.

Roger Kimball, in his book "Experiments Against Reality" wrote, "On Liberty" was published in 1859, coincidentally the same year as "On the Origin of Species." Darwin's book has been credited--and blamed--for all manner of moral and religious mischief. But in the long run "On Liberty" may have effected an even greater revolution in sentiment.

A bit dry, but worth the effort!  Jan 19, 2005
I am interested in Mill's contributions to utilitarian philosophy. Utilitarianism holds that morals should be based upon those acts which promote the greatest good to the greatest number of people. Human actions which foster happiness are held to be right, while those which yield the converse are wrong. Mill defines happiness as intended pleasure with the absence of pain. Also, he maintains that intended pleasure and freedom from pain are the only things desirable as personal ends. Pleasure which employs one's higher faculties tends to give more satisfaction than baser pleasures, or mere sensations. Few humans would exchange their limited, fleeting pleasures for the fullest ration of the pleasures of the "lower" animals. Since a noble character is made happier by its nobleness, utilitarianism can only attain its end towards the multiplication of happiness through a general elevation of the nobleness of the character of the larger population.

Mill states that pleasures and pains have different values to the actor. Only the judgment honed by experience can assist us in assessing appropriate trade-offs in acquiring a particular pleasure at the cost of gaining a specific pain as well. This type of cost/benefit analysis advocated by utilitarians gives rise to the criticism that utilitarianism results in coldness and lack of sympathy towards others. However, Mill claims that the proof of the worth of utilitarianism, or any other moral system, lies in its ability to produce good results.

Although it is sometimes difficult to wade through the dryness of Mill's rhetoric, it is truly worth it for the philosophical insights contained. This book is a good survey of Mill's thoughts on utilitarian ethics and many other subjects of value.
A must read for anyone interested in political ideology...  Jul 20, 2004
One of the main writers on liberty, J.S. Mill is often overlooked in introductory courses in Political Theory courses. I bought this books as a supplement in my class and it was a wonderful read that gave me an advantage. This book contains some of Mill's best work and the notes added by Schneewind give them an extra dimention and a few explanations that I am glad I had.
Liberty: The Basics  Mar 19, 2003
Not that Mill was ever obscure or inaccessible, but while Prof Schneewind's Introduction adds little value, the notes and annotations by Dale E Miller certainly renders this compendium transparent, even to folks like me who have been dumbed down by years of television debates as primary intellectual nourishment. He enlightens each of Mill's chapters with a short and easily assimilated introductory overview. Complementing this with text annotations, collected at the back of the book. The annotations appear to be very well selected, as they are never too numerous to make flipping to the back of the book tedious, yet they manage to illuminate every aspect or item I might have found even remotely confusing, ambiguous or otherwise incomprehensible in the modern idiom.

This text is an excellent starting point for reading JS Mill, and is very well suited to the armchair philosopher who wishes to get into the material with ease and without encumbrance. However, there may be too little in the annotations in terms of external references, or cross references to Mill's other writings, or background information to satisfy the more academically inclined.

Of course anyone with even a nominal interest in what liberty is... NEEDS to read JS Mill. But then, you wouldn't be here if you didn't know that, right?


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