The main theme of on liberty was the individual. Everything else, society, education,government and so forth had their basis in the individuals rights to his own liberty. Noone, no member of society, government, even God, if he appeared before an individual, could inforce his will upon him. That is not to say that you couldnt change someones mind through discussions, but instead, that noone had a right to force his views upon another. Your happiness is yours(individual) to enjoy without any infringements. Conversations between individuals or groups of individuals is essential in eveloping the notion of liberty.
Mill claims that you should feel free to convey your views openly without forcing them onto others. After all, a man who learns from noone but himself has a fool for a teacher. There is however an exception to this rule. That is, if an individual in any way harms or comes onto anothers rights to liberty, or causes a social threat, hence he or she is subjected to forced inclinations by other members of society. For example, walking around nude on the streets of Cairo might be youre cup of tea, alas, in Cairo they prefer coffee.
In other words, if ou offend other individuals, you are in fact infringing on their rights as free citizens who poses a sovereign mind. However if you choose to remain nude while in the comfort of your hotel room in Cairo, then there is no reason why you According to Mill, education is a fundamental requirement for being an individual as well. But once again, there should be no forceful applications towards what is being taught. Man is after all, a rational being and has the capabilities to reason things through. Education serves more as a guide then as a factual basis for each individual.
No wo individuals can have the exact same experiences in life. Therefore, it is up to the individuals themselves to conclude what they perceive to be their own ideas of happiness. An individual who follows traditions and customs soleley because they are inherrent in society, is nothing more than an animal. The very fact that you can reason said mill, means that you have the option of disregarding all customs and traditions if you feel they are not beneficial towards your happiness. That is not to say that you shouldnt follow customs and traditions, merely that you ought not to, for the sake of eing just another brick in the wall.
The progressive nature of humans leads to the ultimate conclusion that there is no need for a governing force outside society consisting of individuals that have their own interests at heart. There should not be a government, a monarch, a ruler that is outside society. Instead, it should be attached to the people, having their best interests at heart. Rulers are not needed to protect the people from themselves. In fact, they should be in all regards, responsible to the people and subjected to being removed by he people, beacause it is the people who ultimately have the power.
This is a true democratic state, with individuals as the microscopic entities that make it up. Members of this society must not allow themselves to be surpressed by any group who claim to be their legitimate representative of the state. This will subdue individual growth and sovereignity, creating a state with tyranny at its heart. TO avoid this, individuals should freely express themselves, their beliefs, ideas and so forth. No government has the authority to silence individuals who convey their eliefs as the truth.
Even if there are a thousand people with a thousand different views, it is for the benefit of society as a whole to hear them out, for there is a chance that among the various beliefs, one of them may contain the essence of truth. Noone has the right to silence another merely because they express conflicting views. Members of society must be able to keep an open mind towards other individuals “truths”. Reason and logic will see to it that they are capable of readjusting and reconstructing themselves if they find that there is truth in what another individual ays.
This is exactly why individuals and society are The only way a state can progress is by allowing its members to progress. Supression of individual rights and happiness will lead to nothing more than stagnation. Governments are the watchdogs of the people, granting them liberty to expand without inteferences. Mill undoubtedly believed in laissez-fairre for the very reason that it promoted individuality with minimum government intervention. All said, Mills on liberty held the individual as the nucleus of society, with everything else revolving.
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