I have been publishing a post based on John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty every other Sunday since January 27, 2013. Each of these posts is a bit like a homily based on a passage of scripture; but the “scripture” in this case is On Liberty, and occasionally I disagree with John.
Chapter I of On Liberty is an introduction. When I completed my series of posts on Chapter II of On Liberty, “Of the Liberty of Thought and Discussion,” I organized that series of posts in “John Stuart Mill’s Brief for Freedom of Speech.” That post is #1 in my list of most popular posts (as distinct from Quartz columns) and exhibits a continuing steady popularity long after its first appearance. I have now completed my series of posts of Chapter III of On Liberty, “Of Individuality, as One of the Elements of Well-Being.” So I wanted to do a post gathering together links to all my posts based on that chapter.
Time has passed quickly enough that I am surprised by the total number of posts. I think the titles of these posts give a pretty good idea of the progression of John’s argument:
- General Freedom as a Way to Get Others to Gather Experimental Evidence for Me about Different Ways of Living
- John Stuart Mill on the Balance between Imitation and Originality
- John Stuart Mill on the Role of Custom in Human Life
- John Stuart Mill on Humans vs. the Lesser Robots
- John Stuart Mill Prefers Preferences for Almost Anything But Indolence
- The Pendulum Between the Social Principle and Individuality
- John Stuart Mill on Puritanism
- Individuality: Noble and Beautiful; Crushing Individuality: Despotism.
- How Like a God!
- John Stuart Mill and C. S. Lewis on Originality
- Genius Can Only Breathe Freely in an Atmosphere of Freedom
- Do People Really Like Originality?
- John Stuart Mill on Rising Above Mediocrity
- John Stuart Mill: In Praise of Eccentricity
- John Stuart Mill: Different Strokes for Different Folks
- John Stuart Mill: Against Enforced Moderation
- John Stuart Mill: Strong Feelings Strongly Controlled by a Conscientious Will
- John Stuart Mill on the Chief Interest of the History of Mankind: The Love of Liberty and Improvement vs. Custom
- John Stuart Mill on China’s Technological Lost Centuries
- Progress Without Individuality?
- John Stuart Mill on the Limits to Top-Down Progress
- John Stuart Mill on the Tension Between Maintaining the Variation that Ferrets Out Improvements and the Quick Diffusion of Best Practices as Currently Perceived
On the whole, I think John’s argument for individuality is a bit less well known than his argument for freedom of speech. I found many of the things he had to say surprising.
Note: "John Stuart Mill’s Defense of Freedom" links to posts on the rest of "On Liberty."