John Stuart Mill

John Stuart Mill
John Stuart Mill
  • Born: May 20, 1806
  • Died: May 8, 1873
  • Nationality: British
  • Profession: Philosopher









John Stuart Mill, usually cited as J. S. Mill, was a British philosopher, political economist, and civil servant. One of the most influential thinkers in the history of Classical liberalism, he contributed widely to social theory, political theory, and political economy. Dubbed "the most influential English-speaking philosopher of the nineteenth century", Mill's conception of liberty justified the freedom of the individual in opposition to unlimited state and social control.

Quote Topics Cited
... a better government: more complete security of property; moderate taxes; a more permanent ... tenure of land ... the introduction of foreign arts ... and the introduction of foreign capital, which renders the increase of production no longer exclusively on the thrift or providence of the inhabitants themselves. Development & Growth
[There should be] a legal guarantee of subsistence for all the destitute ... whether deserving or not.
[Women’s subjugation to men] is one of the chief hindrances to human improvement. Equality & Equal Opportunity
… the great vitality and durability of institutions which place right on the side of might Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest
A bureaucracy always tends to become a pedantocracy. Bureaucracy
A female slave has (in Christian countries) an admitted right, … to refuse to her master the last familiarity. Not so the wife: however brutal a tyrant she may unfortunately be chained to Families, Children & Parenting
A government is said to preserve order if it succeeds in getting itself obeyed. But there are different degrees of obedience, and it is not every degree that is commendable. Only an unmitigated despotism demands that the individual citizen shall obey unconditionally every mandate of persons in authority. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
A great statesman is he who knows when to depart from traditions, as well as when to adhere to them. Leaders & Leadership
A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. War & Peace
A man's neighbors or his landlord may be much cleverer than himself, and not without an indirect interest in his prosperity, but for all that his interests will be better attended to in his own keeping than in theirs. Equality & Equal Opportunity
A party of order and stability, and a party of progress or reform, are both necessary elements of a healthy state of political life. Political Parties & Machines
A people may be unprepared for good institutions; but to kindle a desire for them is a necessary part of the preparation. Democracies & Republics
A people may prefer a free government, but if, from indolence, or carelessness, or cowardice, or want of public spirit, they are unequal to the exertions necessary for preserving it; if they will not fight for it when it is directly attacked; if they can be deluded by the artifices used to cheat them out of it; if by momentary discouragement, or temporary panic, or a fit of enthusiasm for an individual, they can be induced to lay their liberties at the feet even of a great man. Freedom & Liberty
A people who are revolted by an execution, but not shocked at an assassination--require that the public authorities should be armed with much sterner powers of repression than elsewhere, since the first indispensable requisites of civilized life have nothing else to rest on. Capital Punishment, Dealth Penalty & State Execution
A portion of mankind may be said to constitute a nationality if they are united among themselves by common sympathies which do not exist between them and any others—which make them cooperate more willingly than with other people, desire to be under the same government and desire that it should be government by themselves or a portion of themselves inclusively. States. Nations & Nationhood
A portion of mankind may be said to constitute a Nationality if they are united among themselves by common sympathies which do not exist between them and any others—which make them co-operate with each other more willingly than with other people, desire to be under the same government, and desire that it should be government by themselves or a portion of themselves exclusively. States. Nations & Nationhood
A rude people, though in some degree alive to the benefits of civilized society, may be unable to practice the forbearance which it demands: their passions may be too violent, or their personal pride too exacting, to forego private conflict, and leave to the laws the avenging of their real or supposed wrongs. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
A State which dwarfs its men, in order that they may be more docile instruments in its hands even for beneficial purposes—will find that with small men, no great thing can really be accomplished. Development & Growth
A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice; a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their own choice, is often the means of their regeneration. War & Peace
A woman seldom runs wild after an abstraction. The habitual direction of her mind [is] to dealing with things as individuals rather than in groups Miscellaneous
After the primary necessities of food and raiment, freedom is the first and strongest want of human nature. Human Nature
All good things which exist are the fruits of originality. Copyrights, Patents & Intellectual Property
All governments must displease many persons, and these having now regular organs, and being able to express their sentiments, opinions adverse to the measures of government would often be expressed. Freedom & Liberty
All intellectual superiority is the fruit of active effort. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people... it is true that most stupid people are conservative. Liberals & Conservatives
Among the foremost benefits of free government is that education of the intelligence and of the sentiments which is carried down to the very lowest ranks of the people when they are called to take a part in acts which directly affect the great interests of their country. Democracies & Republics
Another important consideration is the great mischief of unintermitted electioneering. When the highest dignity in the State is to be conferred by popular election once in every few years, the whole intervening time is spent in what is virtually a canvass. President, ministers, chiefs of parties, and their followers, are all electioneerers: the whole community is kept intent on the mere personalities of politics, and every public question is discussed and decided with less reference to its merits than to its expected bearing on the presidential election. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other. Justice & Injustice
At some period, however, of their history, almost every people, now civilized, have consisted, in majority, of slaves. A people in that condition require to raise them out of it a very different polity from a nation of savages. Freedom & Liberty ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing. Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest
Before the time of the conquest, the Irish people knew nothing of absolute property in land. The land belonged to the entire sept; the chief was Little more than the managing member of the association. The feudal idea which came in with the conquest was associated with foreign dominion, and has never to this day been recognized by the moral sentiment of the people Economics, The Economy & Fiscal Affairs ;Social Sciences
But political checks will no more act of themselves, than a bridle will direct a horse without a rider. Management & Managing Government
Can we blame an elector of the poorer classes, who has only the choice among two or three rich men, for requiring from the one he votes for a pledge to those measures which he considers as a test of emancipation from the class-interests of the rich? Poverty
Conduct, and conduct alone, entitles to respect: that not what men are, but what they do, constitutes their claim to deference … merit, and not birth, is the only rightful claim to power and authority Miscellaneous
Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
Countries separated by half the globe do not present the natural conditions for being under one government, or even members of one federation. States. Nations & Nationhood
Democracy is not the ideally best form of government … unless it can be so organized that no class, not even the most numerous, shall be able to reduce all but itself to political insignificance, and direct the course of legislation and administration by its exclusive class interest. Power
Each person is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily, or mental, or spiritual. Health, Healthcare & Medicine
England has always felt under a certain degree of obligation to bestow on such of her outlying populations as were of her own blood and language, and on some who were not, representative institutions formed in imitation of her own: but until the present generation, she has been on the same bad level with other countries as to the amount of self-government which she allowed them to exercise through the representative institutions that she conceded to them. Expansionism, Colonialism & Imperialism
Every executive function, whether superior or subordinate, should be the appointed duty of some given individual. It should be apparent to all the world who did everything, and through whose default anything was left undone. Responsibility is null when nobody knows who is responsible. Nor, even when real, can it be divided without being weakened. Management & Managing Government
Every kind and degree of evil of which mankind are susceptible may be inflicted on them by their government. Miscellaneous
Everyone who receives the protection of society owes a return for the benefit. Citizenship & Patriotism
Experience cannot possibly have decided between two courses, so long as there has only been experience of one. Policy & Policy Making
He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion… Nor is it enough that he should hear the opinions of adversaries from his own teachers, presented as they state them, and accompanied by what they offer as refutations. He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them…he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that. Oratory, Discussion & Debate
Human beings are no longer born to their place in life Equality & Equal Opportunity
I entered Parliament with what I thought to be the lowest possible opinion of the average member. I came out with one still lower. Legislating & Legislative Process
I, having no legal means of divesting myself of these odious powers put on record a formal protest against the existing law of marriage. Families, Children & Parenting
If a person possesses any tolerable amount of common sense and experience, his own mode of laying out his existence is the best. Freedom & Liberty
If all mankind, minus one, were of one 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. Freedom & Liberty
If the artificial is not better than the natural, to what end are all the arts of life? To dig, to plow, to build, to wear clothes, are direct infringements of the injunction to follow nature. Environment & Environmentalism
If the constitution of the electoral body disposes them to choose unfit persons, there are always plenty of such persons to choose from Detriments & Qualifications ;Public Office: Benefits
If the friends of the candidate choose to go to expense for committees and canvassing [campaigning] there are no means of preventing them; but such expenses out of the candidate’s own pocket, or any expenses whatever beyond the deposit of £50 (or £100), should be illegal and punishable. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
In all questions between a government and an individual the presumption in every Englishman's mind is that the government is in the wrong. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
In all things of any difficulty and importance, those who can do them well are fewer than the need, even with the most unrestricted latitude of choice: and any limitation of the field of selection deprives society of some chances of being served by the competent, without ever saving it from the incompetent Business, Commerce & Finance
In domestic as in political tyranny, the case of absolute monsters chiefly illustrates the institution by showing that there is scarcely any horror which may not occur under it if the despot pleases Families, Children & Parenting
In England there has always been more liberty, but worse organization, while in other countries there is better organization, but less liberty. Freedom & Liberty
In every respect the burden is hard on those who attack an almost universal opinion. They must be very fortunate well as unusually capable if they obtain a hearing at all. Public Opinion & Polling
In history, as in traveling, men usually see only what they already had in their own minds; and few learn much from history, who do not bring much with them to its study. History
In modern societies, all things, even in the military department of affairs, are decided, not by individual effort, but by the combined operations of numbers; Miscellaneous
In the United States, where the numerical majority have long been in full possession of collective despotism, they would probably be as unwilling to part with it as a single despot or an aristocracy. Democracies & Republics
In times not long gone by, the higher and richer classes were in complete possession of the government. Their power was the master grievance of the country. The habit of voting at the bidding of an employer, or of a landlord, was so firmly established, that hardly anything was capable of shaking it Voters, Voting & Elections
Is there so great a superfluity of men fit for high duties, that society can afford to reject the service of any competent person? Detriments & Qualifications ;Public Office: Benefits
It is also absolutely necessary that the examinations should be competitive, and the appointments given to those who are most successful. A mere pass examination never, in the long run, does more than exclude absolute dunces. Detriments & Qualifications ;Public Office: Benefits
It is an adherent condition of human affairs that no intention, however sincere, of protecting the interests of others, can make it safe or salutary to tie up their own hands. Freedom & Liberty
It is conceivable that religion may be morally useful without being intellectually sustainable. Religion & God
It is not much to be wondered at if impatient or disappointed reformers, groaning under the impediments opposed to the most salutary public improvements by the ignorance, the indifference, the intractableness, the perverse obstinacy of a people, and the corrupt combinations of selfish private interests armed with the powerful weapons afforded by free institutions, should at times sigh for a strong hand to bear down all these obstacles, and compel a recalcitrant people to be better governed. Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers ;Dictators, Despots, Autocrats, Autocracies & Dictatorships
It is only by the collision of adverse opinions that the remainder of the truth has any chance of being supplied. Oratory, Discussion & Debate
It is the habit of mankind to mistake familiarity for accurate knowledge. Human Nature
It is what men think that determines how they act Public Opinion & Polling
Jews, instead of being stationary like other Asiatics, were, next to the Greeks, the most progressive people of antiquity, and, jointly with them, have been the starting-point and main propelling agency of modern cultivation. Minorities & Women
Laws and institutions require to be adapted, not to good men, but to bad Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
Laws never would be improved, if there were not numerous persons whose moral sentiments are better than the existing laws. Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers
Levying the taxes … does not impede the industry, or unnecessarily interfere with the liberty, of the citizen, promotes, not the preservation only, but the increase of the national wealth, and encourages a more active use of the individual faculties. Taxes
Liberty consists in doing what one desires. Freedom & Liberty
Liberty resides in the rights of those people whose views we find most odious. Freedom & Liberty
Localities may be allowed to mismanage their own interests, but not to prejudice those of others, nor violate those principles of justice between one person and another of which it is the duty of the State to maintain the rigid observance. Intergovernmental Relations
Manufacturers have stood in the pillory for presuming to carry on their business by new and improved methods. Business, Commerce & Finance
Men who have been much taught, are apt to be deficient in the sense of present fact; they do not see, in the facts which they are called upon to deal with, what is really there, but what they have been taught to expect. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
Murder of a man by his wife was called treason (petty as distinguished from high treason), and was more cruelly avenged than was usually the case with high treason; Families, Children & Parenting
No amount of ill usage, without adultery superadded, will in England free a wife from her tormentor. Families, Children & Parenting
No executive functionaries should be appointed by popular election: neither by the votes of the people themselves, nor by those of their representatives. The entire business of government is skilled employment; the qualifications for the discharge of it are of that special and professional kind which cannot be properly judged of except by persons who have themselves some share of those qualifications, or some practical experience of them.
No slave is a slave to the same lengths, and in so full a sense of the word, as a wife is. Hardly any slave, except one immediately attached to the master's person, is a slave at all hours and all minutes Families, Children & Parenting ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
Nobody thinks it necessary to make a law that only a strong-armed man shall be a blacksmith. Freedom and competition suffice to make blacksmiths strong-armed men Work, Workers & The Labor Force
Not only the candidate should not be required, he should not be permitted, to incur any but a limited and trifling expense for his election. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
Nothing is more certain than that improvement in human affairs is wholly the work of the uncontented characters. Human Nature
Of all officers of government, those in whose appointment any participation of popular suffrage is the most objectionable are judicial officers.
One man with beliefs is equal to a thousand with only interests. Human Nature
One of the most difficult and embarrassing, questions of political morality is the extent and limits of the, right of those who have first taken possession of the, unoccupied portion of the earth's surface to exclude the, remainder of mankind from inhabiting it. Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest
One person with a belief is a social power equal to ninety-nine who only have interests. Lobbying & Special Interests
Opinion tolerates a false disclaimer, only when it already tolerates the thing disclaimed. Public Opinion & Polling
Opinions lose their immunity when the circumstances in which they are expressed are such as to constitute their expression a positive instigation to some mischievous act Freedom & Liberty
Order is said to exist where the people of the country have, as a general rule, ceased to prosecute their quarrels by private force, and acquired the habit of referring the decision of their disputes and the redress of their injuries to the public authorities. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is of right, absolute. Alcohol, Tobacco & Other Drugs
Panics do not destroy capital; they merely reveal the extent to which it has been previously destroyed by its betrayal into hopelessly unproductive works. Economics, The Economy & Fiscal Affairs
People are more easily induced to do, and do more easily, what they are already used to; but people also learn to do things new to them. Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers
Political checks will no more act of themselves than a bridle will direct a horse without a rider. If the checking functionaries are as corrupt or as negligent as those whom they ought to check, and if the public, the mainspring of the whole checking machinery, are too ignorant, too passive, or too careless and inattentive, to do their part, little benefit will be derived from the best administrative apparatus. Yet a good apparatus is always preferable to a bad. Management & Managing Government
Political discussions fly over the heads of those who have no votes, and are not endeavoring to acquire them. Voters, Voting & Elections
Political institutions (however the proposition may be at times ignored) are the work of men; owe their origin and their whole existence to human will. Men did not wake on a summer morning and find them sprung up Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
Polling places should be so numerous as to be within easy reach of every voter … Hustings, poll clerks, and all the necessary machinery of elections, should be at the public charge. Voters, Voting & Elections
Progress includes Order, but Order does not include Progress. Development & Growth
Prophets were a power in the nation, often more than a match for kings and priests, and kept up, in that little corner of the earth, the antagonism of influences which is the only real security for continued progress. Miscellaneous
Proposals to abolish the death penalty demnstrate an effeminacy in the general mind of the country.
Representative institutions are of little value, and may be a mere instrument of tyranny or intrigue, when the generality of electors [voters] are not sufficiently interested in their own government to give their vote, or, if they vote at all, do not bestow their suffrages on public grounds, but sell them for money, or vote at the beck of some one who has control over them Voters, Voting & Elections
So long as opinion is strongly rooted in the feelings, it gains rather than loses instability by having a preponderating weight of argument against it. Public Opinion & Polling
So natural to mankind is intolerance ... that religious freedom has hardly anywhere been practically realized. Freedom & Liberty
Social liberty is protection from the tyranny of political rulers,
Society has now fairly got the better of individuality; and the danger which threatens human nature is not the excess, but the deficiency, of personal impulses and preferences. Miscellaneous
Strange it is that men should admit the validity of the arguments for free speech but object to their being "pushed to an extreme", not seeing that unless the reasons are good for an extreme case, they are not good for any case. Freedom & Liberty
Stupidity is much the same all the world over. Human Nature
Superior powers of mind and profound study are of no use if they do not sometimes lead a person to different conclusions from those which are formed by ordinary powers of mind without study: and if it be an object to possess representatives in any intellectual respect superior to average electors, it must be counted upon that the representative will sometimes differ in opinion from the majority of his constituents Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
That so few dare to be eccentric marks the chief danger of the time. Human Nature
That so few now dare to be eccentric marks the chief danger of the time. Miscellaneous
The bad propensities of human nature are only kept within bounds when they are allowed no scope for their indulgence Human Nature
The concessions of the privileged to the unprivileged are so seldom brought about by any better motive than the power of the unprivileged to extort them Miscellaneous
The distribution of wealth ... depends on the laws and customs of society ... what the opinions and feelings of the ruling class make them, and are very different in different ages and countries; and might be still more different, if mankind so chose. Economics, The Economy & Fiscal Affairs
The Egyptian hierarchy, the paternal despotism of China, were very fit instruments for carrying those nations up to the point of civilization which they attained. But having reached that point, they were brought to a permanent halt for want of mental liberty and individuality. Freedom & Liberty
The English, more than any other people, not only act but feel according to rule. Miscellaneous
The greater security of property is one of the main conditions and causes of greater production. Economics, The Economy & Fiscal Affairs
The habit of analysis has a tendency to wear away the feelings. Management & Managing Government
The individual is not accountable to society for his actions, insofar as these concern the interests of no person but himself. Miscellaneous
The influence of every mode of thinking which is shared by numbers ought to be felt in the legislature. Legislating & Legislative Process
The knowledge and experience of any local authority is but local knowledge and experience, confined to their own part of the country and its modes of management, whereas the central government has the means of knowing all that is to be learnt from the united experience of the whole kingdom, with the addition of easy access to that of foreign countries. Intergovernmental Relations ;Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
The law should be no respecter of persons but should treat all alike, save where dissimilarity of treatment is required by positive reasons, either of justice or of policy. Equality & Equal Opportunity
The laws of most countries are far worse than the people who execute them, and many of them are only able to remain laws by being seldom or never carried into effect. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
The liberty of the individual must be thus far limited: he must not make himself a nuisance to other people. Freedom & Liberty
The love of power and the love of liberty are in eternal antagonism. Power
The main occupation of society has changed from fighting to business, from military to industrial life. Business, Commerce & Finance
The old theory was, that the least possible should be left to the choice of the individual agent; that all he had to do should, as far as practicable, be laid down for him by superior wisdom. Left to himself he was sure to go wrong. Freedom & Liberty
The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs or impede their efforts to obtain it. Freedom & Liberty
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. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant. Power ;Freedom & Liberty
The people who exercise the power are not always the same people over whom it is exercised. Power
The people who think it a shame when anything goes wrong—who rush to the conclusion that evil could or ought to have been prevented, are those who, in the long run, do most to make the world better. Leaders & Leadership
The power of earning is essential to the dignity of a woman Work, Workers & The Labor Force
The practice introduced by some of the new or revised State Constitutions in America, of submitting judicial officers to periodical popular re-election, will be found, I apprehend, to be one of the most dangerous errors ever yet committed by democracy… Justice & Injustice
The principle which regulates the existing social relations between the two sexes—the legal subordination of one sex to the other—is wrong itself, and now one of the chief hindrances to human improvement Discrimination & Prejudice
The proper business of a University is ... not to tell us ... what we ought to believe, and make us accept the belief as a duty; but to give us information and training, and help us to form our own beliefs in a manner worthy of intelligent beings. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
The spirit of improvement is not always a spirit of liberty, for it may aim at forcing improvements on an unwilling people. Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers
The struggle between Liberty and Authority is the most conspicuous feature in the portions of history with which we are earliest familiar. Freedom & Liberty
The vilest malefactor has some wretched woman tied to him, against whom he can commit any atrocity except killing her, and, if tolerably cautious, can do that without much danger of the legal penalty. Families, Children & Parenting
The worth of a State, in the long run, is the worth of the individuals composing it. States. Nations & Nationhood
There are local interests peculiar to every town, whether great or small, and common to all its inhabitants: every town, therefore, without distinction of size, ought to have its municipal council. Intergovernmental Relations
There has never yet been, among political men, any real and serious attempt to prevent [election] bribery, because there has been no real desire that elections should not be costly. Their costliness is an advantage to those who can afford the expense, by excluding a multitude of competitors. Voters, Voting & Elections
There is a character of mind which does not look up to any one; which thinks no other person's opinion much better than its own, or nearly so good as that of a hundred or a thousand persons like itself. Where this is the turn of mind of the electors, they will elect no one who is not or at least who does not profess to be, the image of their own sentiments, and will continue him no longer than while he reflects those sentiments in his conduct. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
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. Freedom & Liberty
There is no good reason why police, or gaols, or the administration of justice, should be differently managed in one part of the kingdom and in another. Labor Unions, Labor Relations & Strikes
There is no subject on which there is a greater habitual difference of judgment between a man judging for himself, and the same man judging for other people. Miscellaneous
There is unquestionably some advantage, in a country like America, where no apprehension needs be entertained of a coup d'etat, in making the chief minister constitutionally independent of the legislative body, and rendering the two great branches of the government, while equally popular both in their origin and in their responsibility, an effective check on one another. Intergovernmental Relations
There should not be several departments independent of one another to superintend different parts of the same natural whole. Management & Managing Government
Things in which the individual is the person directly interested, never go right but as they are left to his own discretion; and that any regulation of them by authority, except to protect the rights of others, is sure to be mischievous. Regulation & Deregulation
Those who pay no taxes, disposing by their votes of other people's money, have every motive to be lavish and none to economize. Taxes
Those who were not taught to fight, have naturally inclined in favor of any other mode of settling differences rather than that of fighting. War & Peace
Though Great Britain could do perfectly well without her colonies, and though on every principle of morality and justice she ought to consent to their separation, should the time come when, after full trial of the best form of union, they deliberately desire to be dissevered—there are strong reasons for maintaining the present slight bond of connection, so long as not disagreeable to the feelings of either party. Expansionism, Colonialism & Imperialism
Though the first admission to government employment be decided by competitive examination, it would in most cases be impossible that subsequent promotion should be so decided: and it seems proper that this should take place, as it usually does at present, on a mixed system of seniority and selection.
To ordain that any kind of persons shall not be physicians, or shall not be advocates, or shall not be Members of Parliament, is to injure not them only, but all who employ physicians or advocates, or elect Members of Parliament, and who are deprived of the stimulating effect of greater competition… Detriments & Qualifications ;Public Office: Benefits
To refuse a hearing to an opinion, because they are sure that it is false, is to assume that their certainty is the same thing as absolute certainty. All silencing of discussion is an assumption of infallibility Miscellaneous
To see the futurity of the species has always been the privilege of the intellectual elite, or of those who have learnt from them Miscellaneous
Uncivilized races, and the bravest and most energetic still more than the rest, are averse to continuous labor of an unexciting kind. Yet all real civilization is at this price; without such labor, neither can the mind be disciplined into the habits required by civilized society, nor the material world prepared to receive it. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
Unmeasured vituperation, employed on the side of prevailing opinion, really does deter people from expressing contrary opinions, and from listening to those who express them.
Voters who are neither bound to the great political nor to any of the little sectarian divisions have no means of making their votes available. Political Parties & Machines
War is an ugly thing but not the ugliest of things. War & Peace
Was there ever any domination which did not appear natural to those who possessed it? Power ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavoring to stifle is a false opinion; and if we are sure, stifling would be an evil still. Freedom & Liberty
We cannot isolate a human being from the circumstances of his condition Justice & Injustice
What distinguishes the majority of men from the few is their inability to act according to their beliefs. Human Nature
What women by nature cannot do, it is quite superfluous to forbid them from doing. What they can do, but not so well as the men who are their competitors, competition suffices to exclude them from; since nobody asks for protective duties and bounties in favor of women; it is only asked that the present bounties and protective duties in favor of men should be recalled. Discrimination & Prejudice
Whatever crushes individuality is despotism. Freedom & Liberty
Whatever is the strongest power in society will obtain the governing authority; and a change in the political constitution cannot be durable unless preceded or accompanied by an altered distribution of power in society itself Power
When a few free states, separately insufficient for their own defense, are hemmed in on all sides by military or feudal monarchs, who hate and despise freedom even in a neighbor, those states have no chance for preserving liberty and its blessings but by a federal union. States. Nations & Nationhood
When a people have no sufficient value for, and attachment to, a representative constitution, they have next to no chance of retaining it. Constitution / Bills & Declaratiobns of Rights
When nobody, or only some small fraction, feels the degree of interest in the general affairs of the State necessary to the formation of a public opinion, the electors will seldom make any use of the right of suffrage but to serve their private interest, or the interest of their locality, or of some one with whom they are connected as adherents or dependents. Voters, Voting & Elections
When the object is to raise the permanent condition of a people, small means do not merely produce small effects; they produce no effect at all. Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers
Wherever the sentiment of the majority is still genuine and intense, it is found to have abated little of its claim to be obeyed. Democracies & Republics
Whether the institution to be defended is slavery, political absolutism, or the absolutism of the head of a family, we are always expected to judge of it from its best instances; and we are presented with pictures of loving exercise of authority on one side, loving submission to it on the other Freedom & Liberty ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
Whoever feels the amount of interest in the government of his country which befits a freeman, has some convictions on national affairs which are like his life-blood; which the strength of his belief in their truth, together with the importance he attaches to them, forbid him to make a subject of compromise, or postpone to the judgment of any person, however greatly his superior. Human Nature
Without knowing the language of a people, we never really know their thoughts, their feelings, and their type of character. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
Wives, even in the most extreme and protracted cases of bodily ill-usage, hardly ever dare avail themselves of the laws made for their protection Families, Children & Parenting
A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.
A party of order or stability, and a party of progress or reform, are both necessary elements of a healthy state of political life. Life ;Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
A person may cause evil to others not only by his actions but by his inaction, and in either case he is justly accountable to them for the injury.
Actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness; wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. By happiness is intended pleasure and the absence of pain. Happiness & Unhappiness
All action is for the sake of some end; and rules of action, it seems natural to suppose, must take their whole character and color from the end to which they are subservient.
All desirable things... are desirable either for the pleasure inherent in themselves, or as a means to the promotion of pleasure and the prevention of pain.
All political revolutions, not affected by foreign conquest, originate in moral revolutions. The subversion of established institutions is merely one consequence of the previous subversion of established opinions.
Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative.
As for charity, it is a matter in which the immediate effect on the persons directly concerned, and the ultimate consequence to the general good, are apt to be at complete war with one another. War & Peace
As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other.
Despotism is a legitimate mode of government in dealing with barbarians.
Eccentricity has always abounded when and where strength of character had abounded; and the amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigor, and courage which it contained. Society
I am not aware that any community has a right to force another to be civilized.
I have learned to seek my happiness by limiting my desires, rather than in attempting to satisfy them. Happiness & Unhappiness
If all mankind minus one were of one 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. Power
In all intellectual debates, both sides tend to be correct in what they affirm, and wrong in what they deny.
It is questionable if all the mechanical inventions yet made have lightened the day's toil of any human being. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Life has a certain flavor for those who have fought and risked all that the sheltered and protected can never experience. Life
Men might as well be imprisoned, as excluded from the means of earning their bread.
No slave is a slave to the same lengths, and in so full a sense of the word, as a wife is.
Of two pleasures, if there be one which all or almost all who have experience of both give a decided preference, irrespective of any feeling of moral obligation to prefer it, that is the more desirable pleasure.
One person with a belief is equal to ninety-nine who have only interests.
Originality is the one thing which unoriginal minds cannot feel the use of.
Pleasure and freedom from pain, are the only things desirable as ends. Freedom & Liberty
Popular opinions, on subjects not palpable to sense, are often true, but seldom or never the whole truth. Truth
That so few now dare to be eccentric, marks the chief danger of the time. Time
The amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigor, and moral courage it contained. That so few now dare to be eccentric marks the chief danger of the time. Society ;Time
The despotism of custom is everywhere the standing hindrance to human advancement.
The dictum that truth always triumphs over persecution is one of the pleasant falsehoods which men repeat after one another till they pass into commonplaces, but which all experience refutes. Truth
The disease which inflicts bureaucracy and what they usually die from is routine.
The duty of man is the same in respect to his own nature as in respect to the nature of all other things, namely not to follow it but to amend it. Nature ;Respect
The fatal tendency of mankind to leave off thinking about a thing when it is no longer doubtful is the cause of half their errors.
The general tendency of things throughout the world is to render mediocrity the ascendant power among mankind. Power
The individual is not accountable to society for his actions in so far as these concern the interests of no person but himself. Society
The liberty of the individual must be thus far limited; he must not make himself a nuisance to other people.
The most cogent reason for restricting the interference of government is the great evil of adding unnecessarily to its power. Power ;Government
The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good, in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it. Freedom & Liberty
The only part of the conduct of any one, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign. Society ;Independence
The only power deserving the name is that of masses, and of governments while they make themselves the organ of the tendencies and instincts of masses. Power
The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
There are many truths of which the full meaning cannot be realized until personal experience has brought it home.
Unquestionably, it is possible to do without happiness; it is done involuntarily by nineteen-twentieths of mankind. Happiness & Unhappiness
War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. War & Peace
We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavouring to stifle is a false opinion; and even if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still.
We have a right, also, in various ways, to act upon our unfavorable opinion of anyone, not to the oppression of his individuality, but in the exercise of ours.
Whatever crushes individuality is despotism, by whatever name it may be called and whether it professes to be enforcing the will of God or the injunctions of men. Religion & God