On Liberty by John Stuart Mill

Date of Publication: 1859


The essay On Liberty was probably Mill’s only abiding work on politics… comparable to Milton’s Areopagitica… as one of the classical defenses of freedom in the English language… The argument of his essay went far beyond a merely utilitarian defense of liberty. When he said that all mankind has no right to silence one dissenter… he was claiming the right to think, to investigate, and to know as moral attributes inseparable from the dignity of a rational being”. “Mill’s On Liberty remains his most widely read book. It represents the final stage in the growth of Utilitarian doctrine… Mill realized that the `greatest good’ of the community is inseparable from the liberty of the individual… [declaring that] `the sole end for which mankind is justified in interfering with liberty of action is self-protection’… Many of Mill’s ideas are now the commonplaces of democracy. His arguments for freedom of every kind of thought or speech have never been improved on. He was the first to recognize the tendency of a democratically elected majority to tyrannize over a minority.” #0241


See digitized copy via the Rare Book Room: On Liberty by John Stuart Mill, 1859