I love truth. Rather, I love what I perceive to be the truth. While not all beautiful things are true, all truth is beautiful. When stated well it reaches its purest form. I will sometimes meditate on some precept for hours without getting bored. While I rarely read books twice, and I make an effort to seek out new ideas and viewpoints I do not share, sometimes I just enjoy the comfort of hearing someone else speak my exact thoughts.
I recently read On Liberty, by John Stuart Mill, published in 1859. To summarize, he argues that opinions are private possessions – not fit things for control by society, whether by government coercion or peer pressure. As an extension of this, the expression of opinion should also be free. Towards the end, as an extension of this free expression, he argues for all manner of private activities to be free. He carefully parses purely private activities from those that do involve society at large and gives examples where liberty can be misapplied, answering every possible objection. He uses big words and very long sentences, yet his writing is understandable and beautiful. Check it out for yourself:
“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. Were an opinion a personal possession of no value except to the owner; if to be obstructed in the enjoyment of it were simply a private injury, it would make some difference whether the injury was inflicted only on a few persons or on many. But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of 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, On Liberty
“But neither one person, nor any number of persons, is warranted in saying to any human creature of ripe years, that he shall not do with his life for his own benefit what he chooses to do with it. He is the person most interested in his well-being: the interest which any other person, except in cases of strong personal attachment, can have in it, is trifling, compared with that which he himself has; the interest which society has in him individually (except as to his conduct to others) is fractional, and altogether indirect: while, with respect to his own feelings and circumstances, the most ordinary man or woman has means of knowledge immeasurably surpassing those that can be possessed by anyone else. The interference of society to overrule his judgment and purposes in what only regards himself, must be grounded on general presumptions; which may be altogether wrong, and even if right, are as likely as not to be misapplied to individual cases, by persons no better acquainted with the circumstances of such cases than those are who look at them merely from without.” – John Stuart Mill, On Liberty
“If the roads, the railways, the banks, the insurance offices, the great joint-stock companies, the universities, and the public charities, were all of them branches of the government; if, in addition, the municipal corporations and local boards, with all that now devolves on them, became departments of the central administration; if the employes of all these different enterprises were appointed and paid by the government, and looked to the government for every rise in life; not all the freedom of the press and popular constitution of the legislature would make this or any other country free otherwise than in name.” – John Stuart Mill, On Liberty
My name is Dan. I am an author, artist, explorer, and contemplator of subjects large and small.