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JOHN STUART MILL QUOTES

Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.

JOHN STUART MILL, Inaugural Address Delivered to the University of St. Andrews, Feb. 1, 1867

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse.... A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice; a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their own free choice—is often the means of their regeneration.

JOHN STUART MILL, "The Contest in America," Dissertations and Discussions

It is the common error of Socialists to overlook the natural indolence of mankind; their tendency to be passive, to be the slaves of habit, to persist indefinitely in a course once chosen. Let them once attain any state of existence which they consider tolerable, and the danger to be apprehended is that they will thenceforth stagnate; will not exert themselves to improve, and by letting their faculties rust, will lose even the energy required to preserve them from deterioration. Competition may not be the best conceivable stimulus, but it is at present a necessary one, and no one can foresee the time when it will not be indispensable to progress.

JOHN STUART MILL, "The Principles of Political Economy"

When society requires to be rebuilt, there is no use in attempting to rebuild it on the old plan.

JOHN STUART MILL, Dissertations and Discussions

Stupidity is much the same all the world over. A stupid person's notions and feelings may confidently be inferred from those which prevail in the circle by which the person is surrounded. Not so with those whose opinions and feelings are an emanation from their own nature and faculties.

JOHN STUART MILL, The Subjugation of Women

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.

JOHN STUART MILL, Utilitarianism, Liberty and Representative Government

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

JOHN STUART MILL, On Liberty

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 justified in silencing mankind.

JOHN STUART MILL, On Liberty

Originality is the one thing which unoriginal minds cannot feel the use of, and the first service which originality has to render them, is that of opening their eyes; which being once fully done, they would have a chance of being themselves original.

JOHN STUART MILL, On Liberty

Hitherto it is questionable if all the mechanical inventions yet made have lightened the day's toil of any human being. They have enabled a greater population to live the same life of drudgery and imprisonment, and an increased number of manufacturers and others to make fortunes. They have increased the comforts of the middle classes. But they have not yet begun to effect those great changes in human destiny, which it is in their nature and in their futurity to accomplish.

JOHN STUART MILL, Principles of Political Economy

Even despotism does not produce its worst effects, so long as Individuality exists under it; and 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.

JOHN STUART MILL, On Liberty

The mass do not now take their opinions from dignitaries in Church or State, from ostensible leaders, or from books. Their thinking is done for them by men much like themselves, addressing them or speaking in their name, on the spur of the moment, through the newspapers. I am not complaining of all this. I do not assert that anything better is compatible, as a general rule with the present low state of the human mind. But that does not hinder the government of mediocrity from being mediocre government.

JOHN STUART MILL, On Liberty

In sober truth, whatever homage may be professed, or even paid, to real or supposed mental superiority, the general tendency of things throughout the world is to render mediocrity the ascendant power among mankind.

JOHN STUART MILL, On Liberty

No government by a democracy or a numerous aristocracy, either in its political acts or in the opinions, qualities, and tone of mind which it fosters, ever did or could rise above mediocrity, except in so far as the sovereign Many have let themselves be guided (which in their best times they have always done) by the counsels and influence of a more highly gifted and instructed One or Few.

JOHN STUART MILL, On Liberty


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