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    First published in 1859, John Stuart Mill's On Liberty is an exhaustive exploration of social and civic liberty, its limits, and its consequences. Mill's work is a classic of political liberalism that contains a rational justification of the freedom of the individual in opposition to the claims of the state. Drawing upon the empiricism of John Locke, George Berkeley, and David Hume, and the utilitarianism of Jeremy Bentham, On Liberty defends the representative democracy as the culmination of society's progression from lower to higher stages, even as it recognizes one of the unique dangers of this type of government - namely, the "tyranny of the majority".

    Central to Mill's ideology is the harm principle - the idea that individual liberties should only be curtailed when they harm or interfere with the ability of others to exercise their own liberties. Unlike other liberal theorists, Mill did not rely upon theories of abstract rights to support his ideology, but rather grounded his philosophy in ideas of utility.

    As relevant to modern audiences as it was to Mill's Victorian readership, On Liberty is an enduring classic of political thought.

    Public Domain (P)2011 Tantor

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    Old Work, New #1 For My Recommendations

    It is difficult to choose between the many reasons why this essay is exceptional beyond compare.

    In the continuing conflicts between liberty and authority, its ideas and influences can be seen on the world stage to this day. John Stuart Mill displays a level of intelligence and educational competence that is now, 160 years later, still almost impossible to find. Rationally examining the principles of liberty, he builds a framework for directing societal rules, as well as for classifying the adverse effects of ignorantly chosen rules.

    The predictions and notions are outright prophetic! Naming Newtonian Physics as an extreme but applicable object for criticism, to allow a new truth to be found. Describing the properties and effects of socialism. Describing the exact ways that would plague both the Soviet Union and China much later, addressing the downsides of their specific societies and how they cause these developments.

    He derives and proposes highly progressive changes that have only seen broader implementation in recent times, such as toleration for atheists and Mormons, or giving wives equal rights to combat despotic husbands. He even encodes the legality of homosexuality into the work, in a way an ignorant reader of his time would not detect, further demonstrating how his intellect was able to bridge what otherwise takes humanity centuries to establish.

    And of course, last but not least, he explains the ways by which freedom of opinion, argument, and personal choice can serve as the cornerstones of a productive and cooperative society.

    As I sit here, pondering over the downsides of current education – for which Mill offered both an explanation and a solution – I can't help but wonder what the world would be like had he, or someone as well versed in liberal principles, ever been allowed to define the legal framework of a large country.

    I very highly recommend "On Liberty" as a crucial philosophical, historical, and political education, and as the best piece of writing I have ever come across.