If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.

— John Stuart Mill

The most delightful John Stuart Mill quotes that will transform you to a better person

The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant.


Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative.


War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things.

The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse.


A person may cause evil to others not only by his actions but by his inaction, and in either case he is justly accountable to them for the injury.


One person with a belief is equal to a force of ninety-nine who have only interests.


The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good, in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it.


I have learned to seek my happiness by limiting my desires, rather than in attempting to satisfy them.


As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other.


A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.


The worth of the state, in the long run, is the worth of the individuals composing it.


In all the more advanced communities the great majority of things are worse done by the intervention of government than the individuals most interested in the matter would do them, or cause them to be done, if left to themselves.


We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavoring to stifle is a false opinion; and even if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still.


About John Stuart Mill

Quotes 352 sayings
Nationality English
Profession Philosopher
Birthday May 20, 1806

How can great minds be produced in a country where the test of great minds is agreeing in the opinion of small minds?


It is a bitter thought, how different a thing the Christianity of the world might have been, if the Christian faith had been adopted as the religion of the empire under the auspices of Marcus Aurelius instead of those of Constantine.


In this age, the mere example of non-conformity, the mere refusal to bend the knee to custom, is itself a service. Precisely because the tyranny of opinion is such as to make eccentricity a reproach, it is desirable, in order to break through that tyranny, that people should be eccentric.


The pupil who is never required to do what he cannot do, never does what he can do.


When the land is cultivated entirely by the spade and no horses are kept, a cow is kept for every three acres of land.


Actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness;

wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. By happiness is intended pleasure and the absence of pain.


Whatever crushes individuality is despotism.


It is questionable if all the mechanical inventions yet made have lightened the day's toil of any human being.


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.


The general tendency of things throughout the world is to render mediocrity the ascendant power among mankind.


The liberty of the individual must be thus far limited;

he must not make himself a nuisance to other people.


All good things which exist are the fruits of originality.


Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so.


Not the violent conflict between parts of the truth, but the quiet suppression of half of it, is the formidable evil; there is always hope when people are forced to listen to both sides; it is when they attend to only one that errors harden into prejudices, and truth itself ceases to have the effect of truth, by being exaggerated into falsehood.


A person should be free to do as he likes in his own concerns;

but he ought not to be free to do as he likes in acting for another, under the pretext that the affairs of the other are his own affairs.


Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.


The despotism of custom is everywhere the standing hindrance to human advancement.


There is never any fair and thorough discussion of heretical opinions.

.. The greatest harm done is to those who are not heretics, and whose whole mental development is cramped and their reason cowed, by the fear of heresy.


The individual is not accountable to society for his actions in so far as these concern the interests of no person but himself.


There are many truths of which the full meaning cannot be realized until personal experience has brought it home.


There is the greatest difference between presuming an opinion to be true, because, with every opportunity for contesting it, it has not been refuted, and assuming its truth for the purpose of not permitting its refutation.


The most cogent reason for restricting the interference of government is the great evil of adding unnecessarily to its power.


... All ideas need to be heard, because each idea contains one aspect of the truth. By examining that aspect, we add to our own idea of the truth. Even ideas that have no truth in them whatsoever are useful because by disproving them, we add support to our own ideas.


Every great movement must experience three stages: ridicule, discussion, adoption.


All silencing of discussion is an assumption of infallibility.


It is useful that while mankind are imperfect there should be different opinions, so is it that there should be different experiments of living; that free scope should be given to varieties of character, short of injury to others.


The disease which inflicts bureaucracy and what they usually die from is routine.


A party of order or stability, and a party of progress or reform, are both necessary elements of a healthy state of political life.


It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied;

better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or the pig, are of a different opinion, it is because they only know their own side of the question.


In the long-run, the best proof of a good character is good actions.


Since the state must necessarily provide subsistence for the criminal poor while undergoing punishment, not to do the same for the poor who have not offended is to give a premium on crime.


That so few now dare to be eccentric, marks the chief danger of the time.


The idea that truth always triumphs over persecution is one of those pleasant falsehoods, which most experience refutes. History is teeming with instances of truth put down by persecution. If not put down forever, it may be set back for centuries.


Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives.


In all intellectual debates, both sides tend to be correct in what they affirm, and wrong in what they deny.


A being who can create a race of men devoid of real freedom and inevitably foredoomed to be sinners, and then punish them for being what he has made them, may be omnipotent and various other things, but he is not what the English language has always intended by the adjective holy.


However unwillingly a person who has a strong opinion may admit the possibility that his opinion may be false, he ought to be moved by the consideration that, however true it may be, if it is not fully, frequently, and fearlessly discussed, it will be held as a dead dogma, not a living truth.