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The Basic Writings: On Liberty/The Subjection of Women/Utilitarianism

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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 po 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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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 po 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.

30 review for The Basic Writings: On Liberty/The Subjection of Women/Utilitarianism

  1. 5 out of 5

    Henrik Haapala

    Update 2020-07-08: One of the few books everybody should know. • "In the case of any person whose judgment is really deserving of confidence, how has it become so? Because he has kept his mind open to criticism of his opinions and conduct. Because it has been his practice to listen to all that could be said against him; to profit by as much of it as was just, and expound to himself, and upon occasion to others, the fallacy of what was fallacious. Because he has felt that the only way in which a h Update 2020-07-08: One of the few books everybody should know. • "In the case of any person whose judgment is really deserving of confidence, how has it become so? Because he has kept his mind open to criticism of his opinions and conduct. Because it has been his practice to listen to all that could be said against him; to profit by as much of it as was just, and expound to himself, and upon occasion to others, the fallacy of what was fallacious. Because he has felt that the only way in which a human being can make some approach to knowing the whole of a subject, is by hearing what can be said about it by persons of every variety of opinion, and studying all modes in which it can be looked at by every character of mind. No wise man ever acquired his wisdom in any mode but this; nor is it in the nature of human intellect to become wise in any other manner." p.22 • "First, if any opinion is compelled to silence, that opinion may, for aught we can certainly know, be true. To deny this is to assume our own infallibility." • Secondly, though the silenced opinion be an error, it may, and very commonly does, contain a portion of truth.." "No one can be a great thinker who does not recognize, that as a thinker it is his first duty to follow his intellect to whatever conclusions it may lead." John Stuart Mill’s writings is surely a goldmine of the clearest philosophical thought expressed in the best English, humbleness and brilliant arguments you can find in philosophy as a whole. The thinking is so modern and still balanced with his encyclopedic knowledge of the classics. He urges us to listen to others and consider a variety of opinions and to be able to argue the other side. His “on liberty” was concidered a classic when published and hade huge influence on how we view freedom for the individual in society. His subject is the nature and limits of the power that can be legitimately excercised by society over the individual. This is timeless wisdom indeed!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Clara Mazzi

    Sono "milliana" da un bel po', senza saperlo. Ho applicato la teoria dell'utilitarismo a fondo negli ultimi anni, senza immaginare neanche che esistesse. Ho letto le pagine di Mill con grande rispetto: non solo per la sua grande intelligenza ma anche e soprattutto per la grande umanità che pervade le sue pagine - confermata poi col suo ultimo articolo, sull'asservimento delle donne, in cui lui si spende con grande sentire sulla questione femminile, sulla parità dei sessi partendo almeno dall'ugu Sono "milliana" da un bel po', senza saperlo. Ho applicato la teoria dell'utilitarismo a fondo negli ultimi anni, senza immaginare neanche che esistesse. Ho letto le pagine di Mill con grande rispetto: non solo per la sua grande intelligenza ma anche e soprattutto per la grande umanità che pervade le sue pagine - confermata poi col suo ultimo articolo, sull'asservimento delle donne, in cui lui si spende con grande sentire sulla questione femminile, sulla parità dei sessi partendo almeno dall'uguaglianza dei diritti all'interno del matrimonio (ma non solo: Mill si batté a lungo affinché le donne potessero votare. Riuscì persino ad ottenere un posto in parlamento. Quando in seguito non riuscì più ad ottenerlo, non smise comunque mai di battersi per loro). L'utilitarismo essenzialmente si occupa della felicità e della sua ricerca e di quanto sia importante che l'Uomo la perseguiti perché solo una società composta da membri felici sarà una società "felice". Io mi esprimo in maniera estremamente grossolana, ma Mill (appassionato anche e soprattutto del ragionamento argomentativo perché è il più giusto, il più corretto e soprattutto quello in cui l'abilità del pensiero dell'Uomo può raggiungere massimo godimento e sviluppo) lo spiega con grande finezza - ed, insisto, umanità. Mi è piaciuto moltissimo non solo leggerlo ma che questo libro mi abbia accompagnato durante la Quarantena.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    Historically interesting, although displayed is a writer confused. 'On Liberty', a paean to individualism, and 'Utilitarianism', arguing for the greater good over self-interest are completely at odds with each other, and the author makes no attempt to reconcile the polar-opposite views. Further, Mill wrote 'Utilitarianism' before 'Liberty' but published 'Liberty' first, as the temperance movement was gaining strength, and while the Greater Good argument points towards temperance of fermented bev Historically interesting, although displayed is a writer confused. 'On Liberty', a paean to individualism, and 'Utilitarianism', arguing for the greater good over self-interest are completely at odds with each other, and the author makes no attempt to reconcile the polar-opposite views. Further, Mill wrote 'Utilitarianism' before 'Liberty' but published 'Liberty' first, as the temperance movement was gaining strength, and while the Greater Good argument points towards temperance of fermented beverages, it seems Mill liked his hooch a little too much to give it up, and wrote 'Liberty' largely as an argument for the right to imbibe. As for the 'Subjection of Women', it still reads strongly today, especially when we have a president and party as of 2016 who wish to remove women's rights and liberties and take the nation back to the 1950s. 3.5/5

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    It took me a couple years and a week to read this. The language is a little painful, but the ideas are interesting.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jim Dick

    Wordy Too complicated to understand well. Good concepts but not clear. Should use simple language in order to make his philosophy clear.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Matthias

    Three milestones in the history of liberalism, progressivism, and rational thinking.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Brian Powell

    This book includes Mill's three most popular works: "On Ethics", "The Subjection of Women", and "Utilitarianism". "On Ethics" is Mill's call for individual freedom and the need for limiting government's reach into the private lives of its citizens. This is not the brand of destructively isolationist libertarianism espoused by psychopaths like Ayn Rand, but rather a pragmatic though principled version advocating civil liberties while emphasizing the importance of social responsibility. "The Subje This book includes Mill's three most popular works: "On Ethics", "The Subjection of Women", and "Utilitarianism". "On Ethics" is Mill's call for individual freedom and the need for limiting government's reach into the private lives of its citizens. This is not the brand of destructively isolationist libertarianism espoused by psychopaths like Ayn Rand, but rather a pragmatic though principled version advocating civil liberties while emphasizing the importance of social responsibility. "The Subjection of Women", written in the first half of the 19th century, is a brave and conscientious plea to the men of Mill's time to recognize women as equals. To us in the 21st century, the work is non-provocative and almost obvious; this is not a criticism of Mill as much as it is a nod to how far society has come in improving the lives of women in the western world. And just in case the solid rationality of empathy was not sufficient to argue the case for the broad education of women, Mill speaks to the most selfish of his male contemporaries by suggesting that stupid wives make for stupid husbands. Brilliant. As for "Utilitarianism", I've reviewed that book elsewhere. https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sergei Moska

    On Liberty is the first philosophy book I ever read, and made a huge impact on my ~18 year old self. What seems like a simple argument became more nuanced and problematic after each reading, though, and it's only after reading it in conjunction with Utilitarianism that I was able to come to terms and resolve (to my own satisfaction, anyway), its ambiguities. The Subjection of Women is also a very fine text. If you're familiar with On Liberty and Utilitarianism, the arguments therein shouldn't co On Liberty is the first philosophy book I ever read, and made a huge impact on my ~18 year old self. What seems like a simple argument became more nuanced and problematic after each reading, though, and it's only after reading it in conjunction with Utilitarianism that I was able to come to terms and resolve (to my own satisfaction, anyway), its ambiguities. The Subjection of Women is also a very fine text. If you're familiar with On Liberty and Utilitarianism, the arguments therein shouldn't come as much of a surprise, but it's absolutely worth reading as it is the most empirical of the three texts. Utilitarianism is straight-up abstraction. On Liberty is mostly abstract, with some examples. Subjection of Women is Mill (and almost certainly Harriet Taylor Mill) holding you by the hand and trying to show how the actual condition of women in Victorian England is tantamount to slavery, etc. Finally, this edition of the book contains very valuable commentary in the endnotes. Miller's contribution really isn't trivial, and it helped me appreciate the text even more.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    This volume contained three works: On Liberty, The Subjection of Women, and Utilitarianism. I must say that I was convinced by Mills' arguments on all three. On the first, I expected it to be perhaps too "liberal" and permissive. Though I do not believe it to be a very solid system as far as a means of governance, in that I do not feel it achievable among fragile humanity, its principles are good ideals to which to strive. On the second, while I've always believed in women's equality, I hadn't n This volume contained three works: On Liberty, The Subjection of Women, and Utilitarianism. I must say that I was convinced by Mills' arguments on all three. On the first, I expected it to be perhaps too "liberal" and permissive. Though I do not believe it to be a very solid system as far as a means of governance, in that I do not feel it achievable among fragile humanity, its principles are good ideals to which to strive. On the second, while I've always believed in women's equality, I hadn't necessarily seen the raw [even evolutionary] naturalism of it. I had always felt the natural order (in the animal social meaning of the term) was man as provider and woman as caretaker, though equal in status. Mills places equality in historical context, however, and shows the logic of parity as natural indeed. On the third, well, I only have an amateur understanding and appreciation of philosophy, so I feel ill-equipped to comment.

  10. 4 out of 5

    rachelm

    "On Liberty" is heavy going at times, but Mill's arguments on privacy, free speech, and limits to government control feel highly relevant in the U.S. today. I found his defense of free speech in the second chapter to be the most moving and persuasive that I've ever come across, and a reminder of the necessity of challenging and reasoning about our own beliefs. "Truth, thus held [as received opinion, without grounds or the ability to defend it] is but one superstition the more, accidentally cling "On Liberty" is heavy going at times, but Mill's arguments on privacy, free speech, and limits to government control feel highly relevant in the U.S. today. I found his defense of free speech in the second chapter to be the most moving and persuasive that I've ever come across, and a reminder of the necessity of challenging and reasoning about our own beliefs. "Truth, thus held [as received opinion, without grounds or the ability to defend it] is but one superstition the more, accidentally clinging to the words which enunciate a truth." I'll revisit this review if I read "The Subjection of Women" or "Utilitarianism."

  11. 4 out of 5

    Milo

    Although I think this guy more or less meant well in his theories, he is such a pseudo-feminist. Why didn't he ever listen to his wife, Harriett Taylor? She was much more on target when it came to women's stuff. Although his theories seem fine on the surface, when you look at them from a feminist perspective, they are completely botching to equal rights. Just another example of ivory tower syndrome. He simply was unable to write beyond anything other than his own lens. Although I think this guy more or less meant well in his theories, he is such a pseudo-feminist. Why didn't he ever listen to his wife, Harriett Taylor? She was much more on target when it came to women's stuff. Although his theories seem fine on the surface, when you look at them from a feminist perspective, they are completely botching to equal rights. Just another example of ivory tower syndrome. He simply was unable to write beyond anything other than his own lens.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Mill is massively misinterpreted and misapplied which is exactly why everyone should his texts (especially “On Liberty”). When it comes to political theory, Mill is comparatively efficient with his words and yet still manages to be thorough with his logic. “The Subjection of Women” is hardly the traditional argument we see today for equal rights between the sexes; Mill’s logic rests on the revised utilitarian principles that characterize his strong empirical libertarianism.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

    I have read "On Liberty" and used it for one of my philosophy classes and am planning to read "The Subjection of Women" when I have the money to purchase a copy that I can mark up and put notes in the pages. J.S. Mill is a philiosopher that writes in a way that is still accessible even if you are not a student of philosophy. He has great depth but not impervious density and can teach a lot on both political issues and philisophical. I have read "On Liberty" and used it for one of my philosophy classes and am planning to read "The Subjection of Women" when I have the money to purchase a copy that I can mark up and put notes in the pages. J.S. Mill is a philiosopher that writes in a way that is still accessible even if you are not a student of philosophy. He has great depth but not impervious density and can teach a lot on both political issues and philisophical.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Empanadani

    This is a compilation of three of Mill's books. I have read the first two: On Liberty and Utilitarianism, but I have to finish The Subjection of Women. I have no plans on finishing that. Excellent reading with issues that are still very relevant today. This is a compilation of three of Mill's books. I have read the first two: On Liberty and Utilitarianism, but I have to finish The Subjection of Women. I have no plans on finishing that. Excellent reading with issues that are still very relevant today.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay

    If you want to see a good fight, watch Kiran and I discuss the Subjection of Women. Its even better when we're in class and people don't know we're friends. Ha. If you want to see a good fight, watch Kiran and I discuss the Subjection of Women. Its even better when we're in class and people don't know we're friends. Ha.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Hchea Genevieve Nai

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rodrock

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sameeksha Satpathy

  19. 4 out of 5

    Vince

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dan

  21. 4 out of 5

    Beverly

  22. 4 out of 5

    Benjie Dela Cerna

  23. 4 out of 5

    CARLO POPUCHET

  24. 5 out of 5

    Braeden

  25. 4 out of 5

    Anders

  26. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jane O'Brien

  28. 5 out of 5

    Erika

  29. 5 out of 5

    Alessandro Aloi

  30. 4 out of 5

    Matt

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