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ing. This shows that "there is a limit to the legitimate interference of collective opinion with individual independence, and to find that limit, and maintain it against encroachment, is as indispensable to a good condition of human affairs, as protection against political despotism.” The object of the treatise is, therefore, to show how far society may have the direct control of the individual, and the principle laid down is “that the sole end for which mankind are warranted individually and collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection ; that the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.” These are his postulates. He dares not discuss them abstractly, but only as they are dependent upon utility, which he regards as the ultimate appeal on all ethical questions.
The essay then branches into three parts, in which the author treats, first, of the Liberty of Thought and Discussion, secondly, of Individuality as one of the elements of well-being, thirdly, of the Limits to the Authority of Society over the Individual. First, then, we follow his remarks upon Liberty of Thought and Discussion. The press should be free. No opinion ought to be silenced, because, if it is right, it deprives us of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth; and if it is wrong, we lose the benefit of a discussion in which truth may be set forth with clearer and more distinct impressions. To assume to silence opinions because they are wrong, is to claim infallibility ; but a man's feeling of infallibility has no adequate grounds to rest on. An age, a race, a generation may be all wrong in their opinions, and their certainty of opinion amounts to nothing. We can only assume that our opinions are true for the guidance of our own conduct, but even in this we may be guided wrongly. We can only be certain that we are right when every opportunity is given for contesting our opinion. It is this constant contesting of opinions which enables mankind, from age to age, to advance beyond old opinions. They are always open to criticism, and this criticism leads to their new adjustment. Mr. Mill would do away with all restraints to discussions from fear of extremes. Truth has nothing to fear. He takes an instance, the belief in God and in a future state, which we usually hold to belong to those necessary beliefs which no one can question. In the case of the murder of Socrates, he shows that the collective public opinion of his countrymen was wrong; and so, too, in the crucifixion of Christ, public opinion was on the wrong side ; and even with such a cultivated moralist as Marcus Aurelius, there was the mistake of persecuting the body of the people who were the most in sympathy with his own teachings. In these cases the other side was not heard, and the assumed infallibility has been proved to be false ; so that even in those cases where we should seem to be most certain, we are not beyond deception, and it would seem to be proved that no truths can be sequestered from free discussion without injury to mankind, and the authority of private judgment is thus established upon the broadest basis. The reactionary force of common sense, and the teachings of experience, guide mankind in the difficult conduct of life. It is indeed impossible to entirely put aside the right of private judgment and the free criticism of opinion ; but when it is set forth without any checks, it puts aside the wisdom of the past, and makes all truth and all opinions amenable to the prejudices of the hour. Mr. Mill aptly shows that truth does not always triumph over persecutions. It may not be entirely crushed out; it may come again and again to the surface ; but he develops the fact very distinctly, that prejudice may make a successful stand against truth. Here, then, lies a trouble. In the fearless discussion of all subjects by all persons, and with every kind of prejudice, there disappears from the surface any settled body of truth. Everything is tested by each individual, and this may be all very well for the leading thinkers, but not for that large number in every state of society who have need of guidance. Especially does this show itself in the department of religious education, because if every child is to be educated a doubter, as he must on Mr. Mill's view of the case, the Christian church disappears entirely from society as the pillar and ground of the truth, which the Apostle Paul divinely proclaimed it to be. The truth is, Mr. Mill belongs to the class of intelligent Britons who have no settled religious belief, who do not go beyond the moralities of religion, and has overlooked this side of the subject; and he presents the case all the
sharper from the fact that freedom of thought in religious matters is not tolerated in British society as it is in our own.
His own opinion culminates in a sentence like this: “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.” His idea is, that these individual thinkers lift up the atmosphere about them, and awaken the race to new purposes, which is all true, only there are some necessary limitations to his doctrine, else all conservative traditions, both in politics and religion, would be blown to the winds. Mr. Mill's error seems to be this : he has been educated under the impulses of private judgment alone, and there seems to him no ultimate authority beyond utility for any questions whatso
This may do in the discussion of secondary causes, but when applied to first causes, it leads one to ignore traditional authority and the deep grounds of acknowledged truth. It is simply Westminster Review doctrines at first hand.
If freedom of discussion means that every truth is on trial in the sense, not that the atmosphere of modern thoughts and education should be simply critical, but that all who hold opinions should establish themselves in them upon most certain grounds, and that truth should not be held as if we were afraid to discuss it; we are at one with Mr. Mill, and we grant that such discussions may be of the highest value, causing individuals to stand out from the crowd as champions of the truth, and arousing intelligent thought. This is indispensable to any one's holding as anything but dead dogmas the opinions which he receives. Mr. Mill insists much and justly upon the value of negative criticism as a means to positive knowledge and worthy conviction, and remarks that “until people are again systematically trained to it, there will be few great thinkers and a general low average of intellect, in any but the mathematical and physical departments of speculation.” To become accurate thinkers men must know both sides of opinions, and thus be thoroughly grounded. All this we grant, but until mankind are better settled upon established truths than they now are, and more free from prejudice, it will not do to teach as if all received opinions must be questioned by every one. Even according to Mr. Mill's own showing, this discnssion of affairs by every one is not safe in developing wise laws for the government of mankind politically, and how much less religiously. There is a sense in which all discussion is most profitable, but there are conditions when it is most injurious to. truth, causing prejudice to triumph.
Having gone through with his statement of the two kinds of discussion already proposed, he brings up a third : that when the conflicting doctrines share the truths between them, the nonconformning opinion is needed to supply the remainder of the truth, of which the received doctrine embodies only a part. He illustrates this point from the usefulness of Rousseau's doctrines in provoking inquiry and calling attention to neglected truth, from the necessity of two parties in politics, one of which is negative to the other, and finally from the partial character of Christian ethics. In this last illustration, he aims to show that the Christian morals of the New Testament are not complete. Christian morality, he says, has all the characters of a reaction ; its ideal is negative rather than positive, passive rather than active, innocence rather than nobleness. He argues this defective system largely from the fact that Christianity inculcates obedience. He does not declaim against the excellence of Christian precepts, but thinks they were not meant to be complete, that they were to be supplemented by precepts drawn from human experience. There is much more to the same purpose ; and he dwells emphatically upon the fact that much of the noblest and most valuable moral teaching has been the work of men who rejected the Christian faith. This
gain does not need refutation, for it shows plainly that the author has a very defective idea of Christianity. It is the way in which, with very much which is most admirable, the most insidious error is joined. Mr. Mill does not expect that the collision of opposite opinions will produce no harm, but that the harm will be more than balanced by the fact that each side will have a hearing, and all the shades of truth will be presented to an intelligent mind. He is the advocate of the fullest and the freest discussion as the only method by which truth may be developed and mankind may be advanced to new positions and conquests.
He next considers Individuality as one of the elements of well-being, the question taking this shape, whether, if men are free to form their opinions, they should not also be free to carry them out in their lives, without hindrance, either physical or moral, from their fellow-men, so long as it is at their own risk and peril. This liberty must be so far limited that the person exercising it shall do no harm to others. The same principles which apply to thought and discussion, apply to their practical development in the individual. There is the same need of different experiments in living that there is of different opinions, that individuality of character may be called out.
The greatest obstacle is the indifference of the greater number to this as an end. Few persons enter into the spirit of Wilhelm von Humboldt's remark, that the end of man, .... is the highest and most harmonious development of his powers to a complete and consistent whole.” To gain this there must be “individuality of power and development”; and for this there are two requisites, "freedom and a variety of situations”; and from the union of these arise “individual vigor and manifold diversity." To have this character a person must have the control of his own desires and impulses. Strong impulses are but another name for energy.
Says the author of “Ecce Homo”: “No heart is pure that is not passionate.” “Pagan self-assertion" is one of the elements of human worth as well as “Christian 'selfdenial.” It is the cultivation of this individuality which produces well developed human beings. The difficulty in these times is to persuade people that the original thinker is necessary. The general tendency of things throughout the world is to render mediocrity the ascendant power among mankind. The great power resides in the masses; they are led by those little wiser than themselves ; and hence public opinion represents only collective mediocrity, and there is no place for individual genius. The influences of the present time are all hostile to individuality.
Since society is so rapidly gaining the ascendancy, the question arises : What are the limits to the authority of society over the individual. “To individuality should belong the part of life in which it is chiefly the individual that is interested ; to society the part which chiefly interests society.” Every one who receives the protection of society owes a return for the