Rousseau Vs Mill Essays

Comparing Rousseau And Mill On Liberty

The term “civil or social liberties” is one that garners a lot of attention and focus from both Rousseau and Mill, although they tackle the subject from slightly different angles. Rousseau believes that the fundamental problem facing people’s capacity to leave the state of nature and enter a society in which their liberty is protected is the ability to “find a form of association that defends and protects the person and goods of each associate with all the common force, and by means of which each one, uniting with all, nevertheless obeys only himself and remains as free as before” (Rousseau 53). Man is forced to leave the state of nature because their resistance to the obstacles faced is beginning to fail (Rousseau 52). Mill does not delve as far back as Rousseau does and he begins his mission of finding a way to preserve people’s liberty in an organized society by looking to order of the ancient societies of Greece, Rome and England (Mill 5). These societies “consisted of a governing One, or a governing tribe or caste, who derived their authority from inheritance or conquest” (Mill 5). This sort of rule was viewed as necessary by the citizens but was also regarded as very dangerous by Mill as the lives of citizen’s were subject to the whims of the governing power who did not always have the best interests of everyone in mind. Mill proposes that the only time “power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others” (Mill 14) and this is one of the fundamental building blocks of Mill’s conception of liberty. Rousseau, on the other hand, places more importance on the concept of a civic liberty and duty whose virtue comes from the conformity of the particular will with the general will.

     “Man was/is born free, and everywhere he is chains” (46) is one of Rousseau’s most famous quotes from his book. He is trying to state the fact that by entering into the restrictive early societies that emerged after the state of nature, man was being enslaved by authoritative rulers and even “one who believes himself to be the master of others is nonetheless a greater slave than they” (Rousseau 46). However, Rousseau is not advocating a return to the state of nature as he knows that would be next to impossible once man has been exposed to the corruption of society, but rather he is looking for a societal arrangement that would preserve man’s liberty and even provide greater benefits than were found in Rousseau’s idealistic vision of the state of nature. By joining civil society and becoming a part of the general will, man is enriching his actions with a morality and rationality that was previously lacking. As he states in Book I, Chapter VIII, “although in this state he deprives himself of several advantages given to him by nature, he gains such great ones…that changed him from a stupid, limited animal into an intelligent being and a man” (Rousseau 56). What man posses in nature is an...

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Rousseau & Mill on the Limitations of Freedom

2035 words - 8 pages Philosophers often attempt to design a societal system that reflects their view of "what is good." However, before this can be established, it is crucial for them to set out, in their opinion, their respective present view of society. In this case, what is commonly held as "good" is freedom. Rousseau's explanation of social contracts affirms his...

Comparing Kant and Mill Essay

915 words - 4 pages Comparing Kant and Mill Works Cited Missing Kant and Mill both articulate thoughts that praise the use of reason as the ultimate good, that which leads to enlightenment (in Kant’s terms) and a general understanding and certainty, as Mill would put it. The two political philosophers, while both striving to reach the same goal, ultimately achieve their goals in a different sense, and even demonstrate a slight discrepancy in what they...

John Stuart Mill - "On Liberty": "The Liberty of Action."

1035 words - 4 pages The essay "On Liberty" written by John Stuart Mill presents the utilitarian vision of human freedom. In my essay, I am going to show what kind of actions John Stuart Mill considers unacceptable and why. In the light of comparison between the customs in the United States...

Comparing Uncle Tom's Cabin and The Mill on the Floss

2652 words - 11 pages George Sand wrote of Stowe's style in Uncle Tom's Cabin, "We should feel that genius is heart, that power is faith, that talent is sincerity, and finally, success is sympathy" (Fields, Ed., 154). Faith, sincerity, and sympathy are indeed the overarching narrative tones Stowe strikes in the novel and are the feelings she wishes to awaken in her readers. Sympathy is likewise what Eliot wishes to stir in her readers in relating Maggie...

A Rhetorical Analysis of "On Liberty" by John Stuart Mill

1642 words - 7 pages A Rhetorical Analysis of "On Liberty"John Stuart Mill, an English philosopher and a political economist, had an important part in forming liberal thought in the 19th century. Mill published his best-known work, On Liberty, in 1859. This foundational book...

Comparing the Utility of Bentham and Mill

2032 words - 8 pages Comparing the Utility of Bentham and Mill utility \U*til"i*ty\, n. [OE. utilite, F. utilit['e], L. utilitas, fr. utilis useful. See Utile.] … 3. Happiness; the greatest good, or happiness, of the greatest number, -- the foundation of utilitarianism. --J. S. Mill. Syn: Usefulness; advantageous; benefit; profit; avail; service. (www.dictionary.com) One of the major players in ethical theories has long been the concept of...

Comparing Karl Marx and John Stuart Mill

4526 words - 18 pages Karl Marx was born and educated in Prussia, where he fell under the influence of Ludwig Feuerbach and other radical Hegelians. Although he shared Hegel's belief in dialectical structure and historical inevitability, Marx held that the foundations of reality lay in the material base of economics rather than in the abstract thought of idealistic philosophy. He earned a doctorate at Jena in 1841, writing on the materialism and atheism of Greek...

Rousseau and Kant on Law

1007 words - 4 pages Kant and Rousseau share many similar viewpoints regarding how laws should be created, but when it comes to the concept of law itself, they differ greatly. Both Rousseau and Kant agree that laws which are agreed by everyone...

The idea that each person in society must be free and able to express his/her opinions taken from "On Liberty" by John Stuart Mill

1153 words - 5 pages The Struggle Between Liberty and AuthorityWhere would our world be without the individualistic ideas of John Stuart Mill? Would we all be forced into false thinking by our government? Would we still believe that the world was flat? In the absence of ideas from original, bold thinkers in society that stand up for their beliefs in pursuit of their dreams,...

On what grounds does Mill defend individual liberty? Is his argument successful?

1587 words - 6 pages It is a well known fact that only some sorts of restrictions on what a person can do, or what a person can choose, are considered restrictions on liberty. We do not say that gravity restricts our freedom to fly for example. What is then the case with our economic situation? Is it considered a restriction to our liberty? Surely we cannot consider the fact you are not able to purchase a personal jet a restriction on liberty. How about not having...

Aristotle, Rousseau and Descartes on Technology

1646 words - 7 pages While it is relatively easy to confuse the ideas of Aristotle, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and René Descartes, ancient philosophy, eighteenth century politics, and mathematics all appear to be considerably disconnected subjects. Associated with these divisions are three different opinions on a common subject matter: technology. It appears that Rousseau directly opposes technology, Aristotle’s opinion rests in the middle but also shares similarities...

Comparing John Locke, John Stuart Mill, And Jean Jacques Rousseau

Comparing John Locke, John Stuart Mill, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau

John Locke, John Stuart Mill, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau all dealt with the issue of political freedom within a society. John Locke's “The Second Treatise of Government”, Mill's “On Liberty”, and Rousseau’s “Discourse On The Origins of Inequality” are influential and compelling literary works which while outlining the conceptual framework of each thinker’s ideal state present divergent visions of the very nature of man and his freedom. The three have somewhat different views regarding how much freedom man ought to have in political society because they have different views regarding man's basic potential for inherently good or evil behavior, as well as the ends or purpose of political societies.
In order to examine how each thinker views man and the freedom he should have in a political society, it is necessary to define freedom or liberty from each philosopher’s perspective. John Locke states his belief that all men exist in "a state of perfect freedom to order their actions and dispose of their possessions and person as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of nature, without asking leave or depending upon the will of any other man." (Ebenstein 373) Locke believes that man exists in a state of nature and thus exists in a state of uncontrollable liberty, which has only the law of nature, or reason, to restrict it. (Ebenstein 374) However, Locke does state that man does not have the license to destroy himself or any other creature in his possession unless a legitimate purpose requires it. Locke emphasizes the ability and opportunity to own and profit from property as necessary for being free.
John Stuart Mill defines liberty in relation to three spheres; each successive sphere progressively encompasses and defines more elements relating to political society. The first sphere consists of the individuals "inward domain of consciousness; demanding liberty of conscious in the most comprehensive sense; liberty of thought and feeling; absolute freedom of opinion and sentiment on all subjects, practical or speculative, scientific, moral, or theological." (Ebenstein 532) The second sphere of Mill's definition encompasses the general freedoms which allow an individual to freely peruse a "...life to suit our own character; of doing as we like..." (Ebenstein 533) Mill also states that these freedoms must not be interfered with by "fellow creatures, so long as what we do does not harm them..." (Ebenstein 533), The final sphere of Mill's definition of liberty is a combination of the first two. He states that "...the freedom to unite, for any purpose not involving harm to others: the persons combining being supposed to be of full age, and not forced and or deceived." (Ebenstein 535)
Rousseau thought that man was born weak and ignorant, but virtuous. It is only when man became sociable that they became wicked. (Cress, 80) Since civil society makes men corrupt, Rousseau...

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John Stuart Mill - Life and Economics

571 words - 2 pages As well as being a renowned philosopher, John Stuart Mill worked in politics to advocate his Utilitarian ideas through economics. His utilitarian view being that the greatest good should serve the greatest number of people. At a young age, Mill, who had shown a flare for analytical thinking, joined his father’s company:

John Stuart Mill: Representation's importance and pitfalls

1238 words - 5 pages For John S. Mill, representation is the best form of government. "The ideally best form of government is that in which the sovereignty, or supreme controlling power in the last resort, is vested in the entire aggregate of the community; every citizen not only having a voice in the exercise of that ultimate sovereignty, but being, at least occasionally, called on to take an actual part in the government, by the personal discharge of some public...

John Stuart Mill Biographical Information

1400 words - 6 pages John Stuart Mill was a very intelligent man, who not only was a great economist of his time, but he was also a philosopher, scholar, author and a political scientist. He was the “most influential English-speaking philosopher of the 19th century.” (John Mill, 1) John made a huge impact on the world. He contributed many ideas and beliefs to society. John Mill was a man of many talents, and he had the courage to hold beliefs that most people did not...

John Stuart Mill on Liberty

2027 words - 8 pages 12."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." Discuss.John Stuart Mill's essay "On Liberty" explains to us the importance of liberty in this life; he goes through all the important issues involved with liberty in order for us to understand his...

Utilitarianism, by John Stuart Mill

2492 words - 10 pages In John Stuart Mill’s work Utilitarianism, Mill is trying to provide proof for his moral theory utilitarianism and disprove all the objections against it. Mill defines utilitarianism as a theory based on the principle that "actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness" (Ch. II, page 7). He calls this the “greatest happiness principle. Mill says, “No reason can be given...

On Liberty - John Stuart Mill

1126 words - 5 pages John Stuart Mill was a great philosopher of the nineteenth century and the author of 'On Liberty.' In this writing (written in 1850), Mills voiced his ideas on individual freedom, both social and political. His intended audience is educated, healthy and 'civilized' adults. He equates our personal freedoms with the pursuit of happiness, in particular, freedom...

Utilitarianism, by John Stuart Mill

1368 words - 5 pages Explain why Mill distinguishes between higher and lower pleasures and assess whether he achieves his aim or not. In his essay, Utilitarianism Mill elaborates on Utilitarianism as a moral theory and responds to misconceptions about it. Utilitarianism, in Mill’s words, is the view that »actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness.«1 In that way, Utilitarianism offers...

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

1317 words - 5 pages Jean-Jacques Rousseau      “I was born to a family whose morals distinguished them from the people.” (Josephson 9) Jean-Jacques Rousseau was born in Geneva, Switzerland on June 28, 1712. He became the son of Isaac Rousseau, a plebian class watchmaker, and Suzanne Bernard, the daughter of a minister who died shortly after giving birth to him. Rousseau’s baptism ceremony was a traditional one held at St. Peter’s Cathedral on July 4, 1712 by...

Jean-Jacques Rousseau Philosopher

914 words - 4 pages Jean-Jacques RousseauPhilosopher1712 - 1778Never exceed your rights, andthey will soon become unlimited.--Rousseau--------------------------------------------------------------------------------Jean-Jacques Rousseau was born on June 28, 1712 in Geneva, Switzerland. His mother died shortly after his birth. When Rousseau was 10 his father fled from Geneva to avoid imprisonment for a minor offense,...

Jean Jacques Rousseau.

2358 words - 9 pages Jean Jacques Rousseau was born in Geneva on June 18, 1712. He was raised by his father and then later by his aunt and uncle. This all happened not long after the death of his mother. Rousseau spent most of his life in France. He was a social and political philosopher that put together enlightenment and romantic themes in his writings. His main focus...

Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau

2132 words - 9 pages Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau developed theories on human nature and how men govern themselves. With the passing of time, political views on the philosophy of government gradually changed. Despite their differences, Hobbes and Rousseau, both became two of the most influential political theorists in the world. Their ideas and philosophies spread all over the world influencing the creation of...

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