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Reforming LiberalismJ.S. Mill's Use of Ancient, Religious, Liberal, and Romantic Moralities$
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Robert Devigne

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780300112429

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300112429.001.0001

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The Cultivation of the Individual and Society: J. S. Mill's Use of Ancient and Romantic Dialectics

The Cultivation of the Individual and Society: J. S. Mill's Use of Ancient and Romantic Dialectics

Chapter:
(p.62) Chapter 3 The Cultivation of the Individual and Society: J. S. Mill's Use of Ancient and Romantic Dialectics
Source:
Reforming Liberalism
Author(s):

Robert Devigne

Publisher:
Yale University Press
DOI:10.12987/yale/9780300112429.003.0004

This chapter examines Mill's political philosophy, whereby liberal societies cannot self-preserve, nor can they prosper if there is a lack in values and civil practices that raise some individuals above narrow, self-interested activity. This chapter explains how Mill looked to the teachings of Plato, Coleridge, Kant, and others, both ancient and romantic, to discover resources that would aid him in conceptualizing a type of liberalism that, besides being capable of defending individual rights, also emphasizes the capacity for individual self-mastery and the exertion of willfulness. For Mill, man's dignity and happiness is dependent on the power to command, to be the prime mover and determinant of one's own aims rather than the instrument of customs, rules, public opinion, and base desires. Mill then believes that both ancients and romantics had more thoroughly explored this human capacity than the philosophers of the Anglo-Scottish Enlightenment.

Keywords:   liberal societies, Plato, Coleridge, Kant, romantic dialectics, liberalism, Anglo-Scottish Enlightenment

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