Blog Post: Thoughts from Bertrand Russell on John Stuart Mill

Linda Elder
Dec 02, 2019 • 2y ago
Thoughts from Bertrand Russell on John Stuart Mill

{"ops":[{"insert":"The following thoughts were written by Bertrand Russell In his book "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Portraits From Memory and other essays "},{"insert":"(New York: Simon & Schuster 1951;1956). These thoughts focus on some of the ways in which John Stuart Mill exemplified excellence in thought and embraced intellectual virtues – how far away would you say we are from his ethical ideals?\n\nIt is not easy to assess the importance of John Stuart Mill in 19"},{"attributes":{"script":"super"},"insert":"th"},{"insert":"-century England. What he achieved depended more upon his moral elevation and his just estimate of the ends of life than upon any purely intellectual merits. His influence in politics and in forming an opinion on moral issues was very great and, to my mind, wholly good. Like other imminent Victorians he combined intellectual distinction with very admirable character (p. 122)… much more important than Mill’s longer treatises were his two short books on the "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Subjection of Women "},{"insert":"and"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":" On Liberty"},{"insert":". In regard to the first of these, the world has gone completely as he would have wished. With regard to the second, there has been an exactly opposite movement (p. 131)… Mill’s deserved the eminence which he enjoyed in his own day, not by his intellect but by his intellectual virtues. What he took over, he made rational in assimilating it. The follies and violences of some Romantics made no impression upon him. His intellectual integrity was impeccable. When he engaged in controversy, he did so with the most minutely scrupulous fairness. The people against whom his controversies were directed deserved almost always the urbanely worded strictures which he passed upon them… His advocacy of equality for women in the end won almost world-wide acceptance. His  book "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"On Liberty"},{"insert":" remains a classic..its value increases as a world travels farther and farther from his teaching. The present world would both astonish and horrify him; but it would be better than it is, if his ethical principles were more respected (pp. 143-144). "},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"\nIf you have not read "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"On Liberty"},{"insert":", or "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"The Subjection of Women"},{"insert":", both by John Stuart Mill, they are recommended readings for all educated and liberally-minded persons. I also recommend John Stuart Mills’ "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Autobiography"},{"insert":".\n"}]}


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