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John Stuart Mill on Individuals - Dictionary of Arguments

Gaus I 102
Individual/Mill/Gaus: (...) a great deal of liberal philosophy has been built on a particular view of human excellence. What might be called a perfectionist theory of the good life, or one devoted to self-realization as the end, can be found in Mill, T. H. Green, Bernard Bosanquet, L. T. Hobhouse, John Dewey and even, I would venture, in the third part of John Rawls’s Theory of Justice(1) - the most distinctly ‘comprehensive’ element of the book (Gaus, 1983a)(2).
The crux of this theory is presented in the third chapter of On Liberty(3), ‘Of Individuality, as One of the Elements of Well-Being’, where human nature is compared to ‘a tree, which requires to grow and develop itself on all sides, according to the tendency of the inward forces that make it a living thing’ (Mill, 1963a(3): ch. 3).
Mill closely ties individuality to this growth or development of human nature: ‘Individuality is the same thing with development’ (1963a(3): ch. 3). Mill believes that reason reveals our nature and its needs; human nature possesses impulses or energies that try to manifest themselves. Not only do we naturally possess different capacities, but these capacities are sources of energy that seek to express themselves. Consequently, to block a person from developing her capacities is to de-energize her - to make her passive and lethargic (1963a(3): ch. 3; Gaus, 1983a(2): ch. 4). >Liberalism/Gaus, >Liberalism/Waldron, >Liberalism/Mill, >Liberalism/Kymlicka, >Autonomy/Gaus; cf. >Communitarianism.


1. Rawls, John (1971) A Theory of Justice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
2. Gaus, Gerald F. (1983a) The Modern Liberal Theory of Man. New York: St Martin’s.
3. Mill, John Stuart (1963a) On Liberty. In J. M. Robson, ed., The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, vol. XVIII, 213–301.


Gaus, Gerald F. 2004. „The Diversity of Comprehensive Liberalisms.“ In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications.


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Mill I
John St. Mill
A System of Logic, Ratiocinative and Inductive, London 1843
German Edition:
Von Namen, aus: A System of Logic, London 1843
In
Eigennamen, Ursula Wolf, Frankfurt/M. 1993

Mill II
J. St. Mill
Utilitarianism: 1st (First) Edition Oxford 1998

Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004


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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2021-06-23
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