John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)

“Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives.”

“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse.”

“The worth of the state, in the long run, is the worth of the individuals composing it.”

“Actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness; wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. By happiness is intended pleasure and the absence of pain.”

“In this age, the man who dares to think for himself and to act independently does a service to his race.”

“A person may cause evil to others not only by his actions but by his inaction, and in either case he is justly accountable to them for the injury.”

“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.”

“That so few now dare to be eccentric marks the chief danger of the time.”

“Originality is the one thing which unoriginal minds cannot feel the use of.”

“Men do not desire merely to be rich, but to be richer than other men.”

“Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so.”

“Unquestionably, it is possible to do without happiness; it is done involuntarily by nineteen-twentieths of mankind.”

“One person with a belief is equal to ninety-nine who have only interests.”

“What distinguishes the majority of men from the few is their inability to act according to their beliefs.”

“The individual is not accountable to society for his actions in so far as these concern the interests of no person but himself.”

“I am not aware that any community has a right to force another to be civilized.”

“If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.”

“We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavoring to stifle is a false opinion; and if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still.”

“That which seems the height of absurdity in one generation often becomes the height of wisdom in the next”

“In all intellectual debates, both sides tend to be correct in what they affirm, and wrong in what they deny.”

“The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.”

“Whatever crushes individuality is despotism, by whatever name it may be called.”

“The liberty of the individual must be thus far limited; he must not make himself a nuisance to other people.”

“Eccentricity has always abounded when and where strength of character had abounded; and the amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigor, and courage which it contained.”

“All desirable things… are desirable either for the pleasure inherent in themselves, or as a means to the promotion of pleasure and the prevention of pain.”

“All good things which exist are the fruits of originality.”

“I have learned to seek my happiness by limiting my desires, rather than in attempting to satisfy them.”

“Language is the light of the mind.”

“Popular opinions, on subjects not palpable to sense, are often true, but seldom or never the whole truth.”

“Every great movement must experience three stages: ridicule, discussion, adoption.”

“The dictum that truth always triumphs over persecution is one of the pleasant falsehoods which men repeat after one another till they pass into commonplaces, but which all experience refutes.”

“As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other.”

“He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that.”

“Life has a certain flavor for those who have fought and risked all that the sheltered and protected can never experience.”

“All political revolutions, not affected by foreign conquest, originate in moral revolutions. The subversion of established institutions is merely one consequence of the previous subversion of established opinions.”

“Whatever crushes individuality is despotism, by whatever name it may be called and whether it professes to be enforcing the will of God or the injunctions of men.”

“A party of order or stability, and a party of progress or reform, are both necessary elements of a healthy state of political life.”

 “The struggle between liberty and authority is the most conspicuous feature in the portions of history with which we are earliest familiar; particularly in that of Greece, Rome, and England”

“The great creative individual. . . is capable of more wisdom and virtue than collective man ever can be.”

“The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good, in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it.”

“As for charity, it is a matter in which the immediate effect on the persons directly concerned, and the ultimate consequence to the general good, are apt to be at complete war with one another.”

“The pupil who is never required to do what he cannot do, never does what he can do.”

“Men are men before they are lawyers, or physicians, or merchants, or manufacturers; and if you make them capable and sensible men, they will make themselves capable and sensible lawyers or physicians.”

“To understand one woman is not necessarily to understand any other woman.”

“A man who has nothing which he cares about more than he does about his personal safety is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the existing of better men than himself.”

“Conversancy with Hegel tends to deprave one’s intellect.”

“The duty of man is the same in respect to his own nature as in respect to the nature of all other things, namely not to follow it but to amend it.”

“The world would be astonished if it knew how great a proportion of its brightest ornaments, of those most distinguished even in popular estimation for wisdom and virtue, are complete skeptics in religion.”

“If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be in silencing mankind.”

“It is as certain that many opinions, now general, will be rejected by future ages, as it is that many, once general, are rejected by the present.”

“The idea that truth always triumphs over persecution is one of those pleasant falsehoods, which most experience refutes. History is teeming with instances of truth put down by persecution. If not put down forever, it may be set back for centuries.”

“A great statesman is he who knows when to depart from traditions, as well as when to adhere to them.”

“That miscellaneous collection of a few wise and many foolish individuals, called the public.”

“It is questionable if all the mechanical inventions yet made have lightened the day’s toil of any human being.”

“The time appears to me to have come when it is the duty of all to make their dissent from religion known.”

“They who know how to employ opportunities will often find that they can create them; and what we can achieve depends less on the amount of time we possess than on the use we make of our time.”

“There are many truths of which the full meaning cannot be realized until personal experience has brought it home.”

“Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative.”

“The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”

“The most important thing women have to do is to stir up the zeal of women themselves.”

“All that makes existence valuable to any one depends on the enforcement of restraints upon the actions of other people.”

“The only power deserving the name is that of masses, and of governments while they make themselves the organ of the tendencies and instincts of masses.”

“The only part of the conduct of anyone for which he is amenable to society is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.”

“The most cogent reason for restricting the interference of government is the great evil of adding unnecessarily to its power.”

“We have a right, also, in various ways, to act upon our unfavorable opinion of anyone, not to the oppression of his individuality, but in the exercise of ours.”

“The price paid for intellectual pacification is the sacrifice of the entire moral courage of the human mind.”

“I will call no being good, who is not what I mean when I apply that epithet to my fellow-creatures; and if such a being can sentence me to hell for not so calling him, to hell I will go.”

“The general tendency of things throughout the world is to render mediocrity the ascendant power among mankind.”

“A state which dwarfs its men, in order that they may be more docile instruments in its hands, even for beneficial purposes, will find that with small men no great thing can really be accomplished.”

“The amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigor, and moral courage it contained. That so few now dare to be eccentric marks the chief danger of the time.”

“Whatever crushes individuality is despotism, no matter what name it is called.”

“Complete moral tolerance is possible only when men have become completely indifferent to each other — that is to say, when society is at an end.”

“A person may suffer very severe penalties at the hands of others, for faults which directly concern only himself.”

“Men do not want solely the obedience of women, they want their sentiments.”

“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing he cares about more than his personal safety; in a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”

“Of two pleasures, if there be one which all or almost all who have experience of both give a decided preference, irrespective of any feeling of moral obligation to prefer it, that is the more desirable pleasure.”

“All action is for the sake of some end; and rules of action, it seems natural to suppose, must take their whole character and color from the end to which they are subservient.”

“Men might as well be imprisoned, as excluded from the means of earning their bread.”

“Pleasure and freedom from pain, are the only things desirable as ends.”

“A philosopher is there to disturb the indolence of the mind.”

“But society has now fairly got the better of individuality; and the danger which threatens human nature is not the excess, but the deficiency, of personal impulses and preferences.”

“Liberty consists in doing what one desires.”

“Among the works of man, which human life is rightly employed in perfecting, the first in importance surely is man himself.”

“The feeling of a direct responsibility of the individual to God is almost wholly a creation of Protestantism.”

“The disease which inflicts bureaucracy and what they usually die from is routine.”

“The despotism of custom is everywhere the standing hindrance to human advancement.”

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