EXTRA EXTRA

June 15, 2011

SELF-GOVERNMENT NOT THE GOVERNMENT OF EACH BY HIMSELF BUT OF EACH BY ALL THE REST

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The many points made good by the writing of John Stewart Mill on Liberty

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Self-interest defined: Causes which influence men’s wishes in regard to the conduct of others ((…)) sometimes their reason; at other times their prejudice or superstitions; often their social affections, not seldom their anti-social ones, their envy or jealousy, their arrogance or contemptuousness; but most commonly their desires or fears for themselves.

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((Mid-19th c. Britain)) Our merely social intolerance kills no one, roots out no opinions, but induces men to disguise them or to abstain from any active effort for their diffusion. With us, heretical opinions do not perceptibly gain, or even lose, ground in each decade or generation; they never blaze out far and wide, but continue to smoulder in the narrow circles of thinking and studious persons among whom they originate, without ever lighting up the general affairs of mankind with either a true or a deceptive light. And thus is kept up a state  if things very satisfactory to some minds, because, without the unpleasant process of fining or imprisoning anybody, it maintains all prevailing opinions outwardly undisturbed, while it does not absolutely interdict the exercise of reason by dissentients afflicted with the malady of thought.

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((Linear-cyclical philosophy of history – “forgetting”– but what about “absorption” and practicing method — pedagogy)) We often hear the teachers of all creeds lamenting the difficulty of keeping up in the minds of believers a lively apprehension of the truth which they nominally recognize, so that it may penetrate the feelings and acquire a real mastery over the conduct. No such difficulty is complained of while the creed is still fighting for its existence; even the weaker combatants then know and feel what they are fighting for, and the difference between  it and other doctrines; and in that period of every creed’s existence not a few persons may be found who have realised its fundamental principles in all the forms of thought, have weighed and considered them in all their important bearings, and have experienced the full effect on the character which belief in that creed ought to produce in a mind thoroughly imbued with it. But when it has come to be an hereditary ((nearly spacial transfer when time is compressed)) creed, and to be received passively, not actively – when the mind is no longer compelled, in the same degree as at first, to exercise its vital powers on the questions which its belief presents to it, there is a progressive tendency to forget all of the belief except the formularies, or to give it a dull and torpid assent, as if accepting it on trust ((idol)) dispensed with the necessity of realizing it in consciousness, or testing it by personal experience, until it almost ceases to connect itself at all with the inner life of the human being.

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