John Stuart Mill's "Very Simple Principle"
Wherever there's a debate over gay marriage, free speech, or even smoking in public places, the arguments John Stuart Mill made in On Liberty are still in the thick of the action.
Almost everybody who cares about science or ideas knows by now that 2009 is the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, as well as the 200th anniversary of its author’s birth. Origin of Species is rightly hailed by scientists and non-scientists alike as one of the foundations of modern thought, but it was far from the only important work that came off the presses in 1859. While we might well discount Samuel Smiles’s mega-bestseller Self-Help, the eponym of a genre that flourishes like kudzu, the same momentous year brought forth John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty, the most passionate treatise on human freedom ever written, and a perennially sacred scripture to the world’s civil libertarians.
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