What does mill assume to be the fundamental nature of man?
John Stuart Mill’s essay on his study of man, On Liberty and The Subjection of Women, is developed on assumption that man, generally, seeks to seize the power. Also, man tries to influence the regime of country or society one belongs to. Man, through this constant process of liberal contribution of ideas, has progressed.
Mill states that man has complete liberty over its mind and conscience, ‘absolute freedom of opinions and sentiment on all subjects, practical or speculative, scientific, moral, or theological’ (Mill, 18). In old societies where monarchy or feudalism prevailed, men needed protection from the Authority to secure their voices. People strived to contribute their ideas on regimes of that era, to secure their breads, and to reform their politics. Through this continuous process of expression and reform, mankind has progressed towards the liberty.
However, Mill also suggests that man stops the expression of ideas once their objective is met. When despotism exists, men tries to break through rules that were imposed on them. After successful revolution, expression of diverse and novel ideas slows down, because the society is customized according to their wants that ‘mankind speedily become unable to conceive diversity’. (Mill, 84)
These points could only be comprehended when Mill’s assumption is firmly established, that men, including members of society and authority, seeks to seize and secure power. Therefore, it can be seen as power struggle between the mass and despot. Interestingly, members of the society try to secure its place once in power, just like despot would have done. This reveals Mill’s another assumption on man, vulnerability and susceptibility. Although Mill does not directly state these assumptions on mankind, they can be found by comparing examples he employs to explain his theory. ‘Ideal of character is to be without any marked character: to maim by compression,...
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