Two cornerstones of liberalism from the great social radical of English philosophy
John Stuart Mill was a prodigious thinker who sharply challenged the beliefs of his age. In On Liberty, one of the sacred texts of liberalism, he argues that any democracy risks becoming a “tyranny of opinion” in which minority views are suppressed if they do not conform to those of the majority. The Subjection of Women, written shortly after the death of Mill’s wife, Harriet, stresses the importance of sexual equality. Together they provide eloquent testimony to the hopes and anxieties of Victorian England, and offer a trenchant consideration of what it really means to be free.
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John Stuart Mill was a child of radicalism, born in 1806 into a rarefied realm of philosophic discourse. His father, who with Jeremy Bentham was a founding member of the utilitarian movement, was responsible for his son’s education and saw… More about John Stuart Mill