Four Great Quotes from John Stewart Mill

Here are four good John Stuart Mill quotes:

“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.”


“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.”


“[T]he opinion the authorities are trying to suppress may be true. Those who want to suppress it will deny its truth, of course; but they aren’t infallible. They have no authority to decide the question for all mankind, and exclude every other person from the means of judging. 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, which is a good argument for condemning it; many people have used this argument, but it’s none the worse for that.”

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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2 Responses to Four Great Quotes from John Stewart Mill

  1. Scarlet Letter says:


    Thanks for the John Stuart Mill quotes; the literature of the nineteenth century remains my area of interest and I see echoes of nineteenth-century lit in many of 20th/21st century books I read.

    Yesterday, I was rearranging a bookcase and came across _Parallel Lives: Five Victorian Marriages_ by Phyllis Rose. Have you read it?
    One of the couples Rose discusses is Mill and Harriet Taylor.

    I am reading A.S. Byatt’s _The Children’s Book_ which has echoes of Dickens. Byatt dedicated this book to Jenny Uglow, who wrote a biography of Elizabeth Gaskell (among others)and is now the editorial director at Chatto & Windus, an imprint of Random House. Random House is the publisher of _The Children’s Book_.


  2. santitafarella says:

    Scarlet Letter:

    Regarding Parallel Lives, I don’t know that book, but I’ll put it on my Amazon wish list.

    I have, however, been reading a history of the Victorian period. It’s titled simply “Victorians” and it is by A.N. Wilson. It’s quite an extraordinary book. You might check it out at Amazon. I would ignore the mixed reviews. Wilson is a very good writer. I’ve been reading him since the late 1980s.


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