Friday, September 21, 2007

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)

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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.


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Lecture: Liberty and Political Correctness
Lecture: The Subjection of Women
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As an important liberal thinker of the 19th Century, John Stuart Mill focused on the conflict between liberal democracy and democratic political equality by looking at capitalism with a human face and positing that the political process can subdue the excesses of capitalism. His vision was one of progress through capitalism controlled by democratic politics - and a critical response to the taxation and labor focused political economy of David Ricardo. Mill argued that achieving a capitalist consensus takes time and that four things are needed for this consensus. First, we must develop improvements in the standard of living overall; there should be no huge gaps between classes. Second there must be a perception of upward mobility for enough people so as not to develop a caste system. Third, liberal democratic nation-states should grant a minimum amount of reforms to be legitimate and not be considered elitist. Finally, the old goals must be destroyed and replaced with a vision of a different and future life that provides betterment for everyone.

These old goals he wanted replaced was the utilitarian notion of happiness through the accumulation of stuff. Mill opposed this notion and began to reject the utilitarian rational thinking after his nervous breakdown that was brought about when Mill asked himself, "What would happen when all my goals are realized?"

From this, Mill plunged himself into the writings of the German Idealists and the French political thinkers. He began to reject egoism and then looked at the lower class' plight, the problem of democracy and the question of socialism. From this he began to see the human face of capitalism, which he thought to be the most productive and, thus, best and inevitable, system of economy. However, he saw that the distribution of the product was the problem. He countered this problem by positing that an interventionist popular democracy can control hardships through programs such as social security pensions, equal opportunity, public education, and better roads and housing all made possible by taxation of the wealthy which would also bring political stability. This almost utopian vision held that the free contract system of the time was unfair and that it was not so much "free contract" as it was slavery. The worker's remuneration was simply not proportional to their exertion thus he thought the system needed alterations to provide equitable proportions.

Mill was also interested in such life betterment reforms as profit sharing and producer owned cooperatives. However, he did not think of socialism as a viable solution because of the egoism inherent in mankind. Mill proved insensitive to the inequalities of capitalism in that he thought the lower classes could be made smaller through population control. His theory of "trickle down" economics did prove to a higher standard of living for all, but as it pushed the GNP outward, it widened the gap between the working class and the elite. Furthermore, while an idea of upward mobility may have been perceived, the actual problem of inequality never actually went away. This view continues to inspire capitalist parties, who are less sensitive to outcome inequality than socialist parties, and emphasize instead equal opportunity. The basic conflict between views of Mill and David Ricardo is still considered to have begun the modern debates on political economy.

The life of John Stuart Mill

John Stuart Mill was born on the 20th of May 1806 in his fathers house in Pentonville, London. He was given an extremely rigorous upbringing by his father, James Mill, a strict disciplinarian. His feats as a child were exceptional; at the age of three was taught the Greek alphabet and long lists of Greek words with their English equivalents. By age 8 he had read Aesop's Fables, Xenophon's Anabasis, and the whole of Herodotus, and was acquainted with Lucian, Diogenes Laërtius, Isocrates and six dialogues of Plato (see his Autobiography). He had also read a great deal of history in English. A contemporary record of Mill's studies from eight to thirteen is published in Bain's sketch of his life. It suggests that his autobiography rather understates the amount of work done! At the age of eight he began Latin, Euclid, and algebra, and was appointed schoolmaster to the younger children of the family. His main reading was still history, but he went through all the Latin and Greek authors commonly read in the schools and universities at the time. He was not taught to compose either in Latin or in Greek, and he was never an exact scholar; it was for the subject matter that he was required to read, and by the age of ten he could read Plato and Demosthenes with ease. His father's History of India was published in 1818; immediately thereafter, about the age of twelve, John began a thorough study of the scholastic logic, at the same time reading Aristotle's logical treatises in the original. In the following year he was introduced to political economy and studied Adam Smith and Ricardo with his father - ultimately completing their classical economic view of factors of production. [This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License and uses material adapted in whole or in part from the Wikipedia article on John Stuart Mill.]

Liberty and Political Correctness
Russell McNeil, PhD (Copyright 2005)
[Logos Exclusive]

In this lecture I plan to offers an analysis the institutional Human Rights protections that are accorded to minorities from what has come to be known as harassment by the use of policies that are clearly designed under specific circumstances to restrict free and unlimited expression of opinion. How would Mill respond to those policies? Would he agree?

Malaspina Policy and the Human Rights Code

Such policies refer at times to zero toleration for certain opinions which because of their nature have the effect of silencing some while restricting human liberty to a privileged majority.

There are several ways of tackling this: Call discriminatory remarks malicious and thus harmful -- as something analogous to libel: If I call you a murderer and know you are not, you could sue me for libel: a malicious act. Or, I could still classify discriminatory remarks as opinion, but harmful opinion -- analogous to yelling fire in a crowded theater. I will maintain that Mill offers sufficient justification for restrictions in the latter case for two reasons:

1) Permitting the expression of discriminatory opinion can seriously limit the sovereign exercise of the individual liberties targeted minorities. 2) Minority protections contribute to the liberty of a society as a whole by enabling a freer expression of more points of view, more opportunities for the expression of genius in Mill's sense, and more opportunities for the reconciliation of discordant opinions.

Such restrictions are often cynically characterized as political correctness. However, the phrase political correctness is itself a reactionary and undermining term coined by those for whom such measures have been designed. It suggests in its usage that the measures designed to extend to minorities protections enjoyed by the majority are somehow offensive and restrictive to those who must practice them.

Mill's essay is guided by two maxims:

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

Second, the individual is accountable for such actions as are prejudicial to the interests of others, and may be subjected either to social or to legal punishments, if society is of opinion that the one or the other is requisite for its protection.

These maxims afford a great deal of social discretion. What actions are prejudicial to the interests of others? What does Mill mean by prejudicial?

He guides us in his opening remarks:

The object of this Essay is to assert one very simple principle: that the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That 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.

Mill also says:

Over himself, over his own body and mind (emphasis added), the individual is sovereign.

So, we are sovereign and free as individuals, insofar as no harm is done to others. The greatest threat to this individual sovereignty according to Mill is the despotism of opinion or the tyranny of the majority. Mill's discussion hinges on where to place the limit between social controls and individual independence.

Is this clear? You are accountable to no one except yourself for actions that concern only yourself. However you may be held accountable for actions that harm others physically, psychologically or morally. While it seems clear that Mill would mean harm as physical harm but would he be disposed to also include what we now call psychological or even moral harm?

Now, Mill says if any one does an act hurtful to others, there is a prima facie case for punishing him, by law, or, where legal penalties are not safely applicable, by general disapprobation. But that does not mean that sanctions are always necessary -- or prudent. The harm must be unduly damaging and it must -- as I will touch on later -- be clearly without justifiable cause, in other words clearly malicious.

Obviously this whole program must then hang on the nature of harm. What constitutes harm? When does harm unduly restrict someone's right to sovereignty?

Harm to body is fairly easy to deal with. The state has a right to protect us from being murdered and to punish those who do. The state may also have a right to protect all of us from actions that threaten our general health through environmental legislation or pollution controls or product labeling.

On the other hand, in Mill's analysis, society has no right to prevent us from snorting cocaine, bungy jumping, or practicing unsafe sex, although it may have a duty to inform us of the risks. Becoming a coke addict, breaking our necks, or acquiring AIDS, would indeed restrict our personal sovereignty; but these are free choices available to us all. Yes, there are social costs involved for all of us caused by the free choices some make in entering into these risks, but these are ways and means available to society offset or minimize those costs through taxation and education, for example.

But what about psychological harm, i.e. the harm done to the mind? What social or legal restrictions should we consider limit this? Well, Mill does say we have sovereignty there too. Clearly then if we can show that others can unduly do harm to our mind -- again without justifiable cause -- then a prima facie can be made for restrictions here as well! I will now attempt to do that.

To what extent is the sovereignty of a woman, a member of a visible minority, an old person, a gay person, a disabled person, or a member of a disadvantaged economic class, affected or threatened by living, and working within a social climate in which the language of racism, ageism, homophobia or classism is unrestricted? These are a few of the areas afforded workplace protections under University College and Provincial statutes.

All of us are free to hold and develop any opinion we choose -- no matter how immoral. But we are not free to act on all of our opinions, particularly in a milieu where we have undertaken a distinct and assignable obligation to prevent physical or psychological mischief to others.

The workplace and the university are just such places where we explicitly offer employment and opportunity for learning to all people irrespective of race, religion or gender. When we talk that talk we must be prepared to walk that walk. It is NOT self-regarding to act in all of my opinions in an environment where such guarantees are maintained. But should it be subject to more that social approbation. Should it be subject to legal prohibition?

Is it in other words harmful in the sense Mill means? And hamful enough to be subject to legal prohibition and not simply social prohibition? There is clear evidence that minorities subjected to psychological harassment -- subtle and sophisticated as it can be - when it is exercised by an advantaged elite with the power to hire or fire, pass or fail -- are genuinely disadvantaged in the exercise of their personal freedoms.

Consequently, a number of initiatives have been designed to extend to minorities the psychological safety from harassment that white males, in particular and for historical reasons, have long enjoyed. This how those who frame these protections argue. It is therefore appropriate to develop local workplace rules and standards applicable to behavior in the workplace that minimize workers and clients exposure to potential harm. Women, and minorities, in particular face psychological risks in the performance of their jobs that place them at a decided disadvantage in the performance of their jobs - if exposed to social biases that might be tolerated within the society at large.

I certainly may be a racist or misogynist at home, but my employer has every right to restrict the free expression of my opinions in this regard in the workplace in order to provide a safer working or learning environment for all employees. It is also incidentally in the interest of the employer to do this to maximize the productivity of his work force by creating conditions that allow both physical and psychological safety.

How then can such restrictionsl be consistent with Mill's idea of liberty? And where do we draw the line between opinion and harassment.

Mill clearly has high regard for the sanctity of opinion:

There ought to exist the fullest liberty of professing and discussing, as a matter of ethical conviction, any doctrine, however immoral it may be considered.

Unless such opinions cause harm and harm sufficient to justify their prohibition. Now, is it possible to see that opinionated isms (racism, classism, ageism, homophobia, etc.) when acted upon in the workplace as no longer in the domain of opinion but in the category of mischief? Let's draw again on Mill:

Acts of whatever kind, which, without justifiable cause, do harm to others, may be, and in the more important cases absolutely require to be, controlled by the unfavorable sentiments, and, when needful, by the active interference of mankind.

Can blatant homophobia and other isms be regarded in this light? Can they be viewed as forms of systematic oppression undertaken by privileged classes to maintain social power by silencing those they perceive might in some way undermine that power? If seen in that light, such isms might be regarded as opinions in name only. In reality then these isms would be regarded as clever disguises for a continuation of the persecution and tyranny that Mill in his opening statements offers as the single greatest threat to individual sovereignty.

Persecution in the guise of opinion deprives individuals of their liberty because of its effect. It works. It silences and thereby removes from discourse individuals who by agreement -- workplace guarantees -- have an equal right to practice their livelihood or in the case of the College to develop their learning.

But what if this interpretation is wrong? Perhaps persecution is too strong a term. What if these isms are nothing more than immoral opinions? What does Mill say here?

Even opinions lose their immunity, when the circumstances in which they are expressed are such as to constitute their expression a positive instigation to some mischievous act.

Yelling fire in a crowded theatre is a mischievous act -- an opinion which loses its immunity because of the potential physical harm that that opinion could cause.

There was no fire. Yet, people are crushed in the panic to get out of the theatre.

Is the systematic silencing of a powerless minority equivalent to yelling fire in a crowded theatre? Some would argue that the 600 to 700 yearly homicides in a city like Detroit - the majority of which occur in the inner city and amongst minorities -- is a direct consequence of the systematic oppression and silencing of entire classes of people by a tyrannical majority.

Minority protection policies are designed to restrict the proclamations of opinions designed to silence. But is silencing -- in this sense -- really the psychological equivalent of yelling fire in a crowed theatre.

Mill does not in any place in On Liberty say that the form of systematic psychological harm from mass silencing I am talking about in this lecture constitutes persecution. But Mill does speak about freedom of expression. And silenced minorities so affected do lose this freedom:

Mill again,

Unless opinions are expressed with equal freedom, and enforced and defended with equal talent and energy, there is no chance of both elements obtaining their due; one scale is sure to go up, and the other down.

The psychological harm is generally directed towards the devaluing of individuals who are targeted. Their opinions are not important. They need not be listened to. Political correctness - properly understood - is designed to protect those who might otherwise be removed from the process. Racism, homophobia, misogyny, economic classism and ageism (against both young and old) is intended to silence. Shut up! Go away! Get lost! You don't have the credentials. You don't have the intellectual skills, the economic status, the racial qualities, physical equipment or the sexual chromosomes to enter into the debate.

In this post Mill era we have learned more about how individuals respond to oppressive atmospheres and attitudes. Individuals subjected to systemic oppression begin to believe it is true. The external message that you are not worth much is internalized as a form of self measure. I must be worthless bad, incomplete, less human. My opinion really isn't worth very much is it? Silence is my best defense ... until frustrations are eventually acted out on the streets of Detroit -- and usually against those who are in the same boat.

This silencing has produced terrible social losses. Through this silencing, we have effectively excluded tens of millions of people from the process and project Mill envisages.

What can we do to ensure that opinions are not silenced and that all opinions are expressed with equal freedom? Provide social and if needed legal measures to restrict systematic oppression. Mill again:

When there are persons to be found, who form an exception to the apparent unanimity of the world on any subject, even if the world is in the right, it is always probable that dissidents have something worth hearing to say for themselves, and that truth would lose something by their silence.

Here is one example of one dissident who decided to speak.

Her name was Sojourner Truth. She was an illiterate black slave familiar with silencing and systematic persecution. Sadly, she was one of the few from her era who decided to speak. This short speech was delivered to a mainly white audience in Akron Ohio in 1851 and in response to a presentation by a minister who has just proffered the opinion that men were inherently superior to women -- because Christ was a man.

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what's this they call it? (member of audience whispers, "intellect") That's it, honey. What's that got to do with women's rights or negroes' rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

- end -

The Subjection of Women
Russell McNeil, PhD (Copyright 2005)
[Logos Exclusive]

Framework of Argument

...the principle which regulates the existing social relations between the two sexes -- the legal subordination of one sex to the other -- is wrong itself, and now one of the chief hindrances to human improvement; and that it ought to be replaced by a principle of perfect equality, admitting no power or privilege on the one side, nor disability on the other...

Mill says then that the current situation is rooted in custom, and feeling -- Instinct rather than reason based on argument or experience. We might think that whenever opinions are based on such a shaky foundation that a solid reasoned argument against that opinion would be the best approach. Not so, says Mill. Those arguments are the toughest, because they are so ingrained in the psyche as prejudice.

So, his job, is to produce invincible positive arguments to prove a negative. It also has to be a reasoned argument -- tougher still because Mill lives in a period -- Romantic period - where the the apotheosis of Reason [has been] substituted with Instinct. He's clearly unhappy with this -- false worship of feelings. It makes his task that much more impossible. But, it does it anyway. Cleverly. Not by going for the opinion directly, but by providing evidence that those who hold the opinion [the judge] have been tampered with!

Perhaps, he starts off, the current master-slave power relation between men and women was the result of careful experimentation and reasoned deliberation. But, no! It's never been otherwise. It is simply the last vestige of what he calls the law of force or the law of the strongest! The stronger [physically] enslave the weaker [physically] in every way imaginable, because, and only because, they are stronger and they get away with it.

It is the last vestige of an old manner of behaviour: it was done to Greek slaves, the American black slaves, and conquered peoples in antiquity. But, although 2000 years of progressive thinking had demonstrated that those arrangements produced negative social consequences, we persist in this area to enslave, oppress, and subjugate women.

The idea that men actually had moral obligation to their slaves was first introduced by the Stoics, and reinforced by 2 millennia of Christian teaching: that the law of force was morally reprehensible. Still it persisted -- even after Plato, inspired by Spartan example, argued invincibly in the Republic that the social and political inequality of women was unjust.

Big deal? Perhaps the law of force is not so wrong? Mill looks at that. Perhaps it's based, as Aristotle may have suggested, in the nature of the relationships. Men and women have different natures and the master-slave dynamic is thus natural. It's an old horse. The KKK uses that one even now; it's been used to justify black-white, lord-serf, Greek-barbarian, wealthy-poor, North-South, oppressions since the beginning of time.

Mill offers some excellent psychological analysis of how the master-slave relationship works. The slave internalizes the perception -- believes it is true -- and acts the part.

If the Master-Slave relationship is so bad, why have women accepted this? Mill's answer is that the particular nature of this master-slave mitigates against rebellion: Men have conditioned women not to rebel: Men do not want solely the obedience of women, they want their sentiments. All men, except the most brutish, desire to have, in the woman most nearly connected with them, not a forced slave but a willing one, not a slave merely, but a favourite. They have therefore put everything in practice to enslave their minds. The social subordination of women thus stands out an isolated fact in modern social institutions; a solitary breach of what has become their fundamental law; a single relic of an old world of thought and practice exploded in everything else. It is in short a prejudice supported by nothing but existing arrangements and opinion.

Mill of course is appalled by all of this. Even if - a big if - women were all that different in nature from men -- some women would/could contribute it the ways men do -- and that alone would invalidate the forced arrangement then in place. But he goes further.

Is there a natural difference between men and women? We don't know. There is no good evidence. If there is a difference it isn't likely to be radical. The differences we seem to see are wholly artificial. They arise from unspeakable ignorance and inattention of mankind in respect to the influences which form human character. We are pretty goddamned stupid. History teaches us that. But Mill -- the cynic here -- says people are abysmally stupid in that regard too: in history, as in traveling, men usually see only what they already had in their own minds; and few learn much from history, who do not bring much with them to its study. I agree.

If there are differences between men and women, it is circumstance, culture, and education -- conditioning -- that determine differences -- if any. One thing we may be certain of -- that what is contrary to women's nature to do, they never will be made to do by simply giving their nature free play. The anxiety of mankind to interfere in behalf of nature, for fear lest nature should not succeed in effecting its purpose, is an altogether unnecessary solicitude. What women by nature cannot do, it is quite superfluous to forbid them from doing. What they can do, but not so well as the men who are their competitors, competition suffices to exclude them from.

Chapter II

In Chapter 2 Mill turns to marriage. It is in this institution Mill sees the more pernicious effects of the Master-Slave relationship. Women, Mill observes, suffer a worse fate than even a female slave. ...a female slave has (in Christian countries) an admitted right, and is considered under a moral obligation, to refuse to her master the last familiarity. Not so the wife: ... However brutal the husband might be, the current marriage contract allows ...him [to] claim from her and enforce the lowest degradation of a human being, that of being made the instrument of an animal function contrary to her inclinations. ... and the children of marriage are by law his children!

What could justify this? Very few people (by analogy) are really fit to rule in any context, let alone to rule like this over a partner in marriage. Natural justice agues in favor of the elimination of such rights of rule. For a model for marriage Mill offers the example of the business partnership, in which the divisions of responsibilities and duties is agreed to in advance. The benefits in marriage of an equitable contract based on equality include: that a good woman would not be more self-sacrificing than the best man ... [and] men would be much more unselfish and self-sacrificing than at present, because they would no longer be taught to worship their own will as such a grand thing that it is actually the law for another rational being. What is needed is, that it should be a school of sympathy in equality, of living together in love, without power on one side or obedience on the other.

Mill certainly does not blame Christianity, or the Epistles of Paul for the current love, honor and obey based marriage paradigm. It is true that Paul did say, as Mill reports: 'Wives, obey your husbands': but Paul also said, 'Slaves, obey your masters.' It was not [as Mill goes on] St. Paul's business, nor was it consistent with his object, the propagation of Christianity, to incite anyone to rebellion against existing laws. The injunction to obey the husband was Paul's interpretation of the Gospel injunction to render unto Caesar, the things that are Caesar's. How many generations of fundamentalists have misread these passages? The Christian paradigm is rooted in love, not power or earthly rebellion against power. It is precisely because Christianity has not done this, that it has been the religion of the progressive portion of mankind.

Other Jobs

In Chapter three Mill address the concept of harm or injury vis-a-vis the master-slave relationship. To deny women the equal moral right of all human beings to choose their occupation is not only harmful to those excluded, but harmful to society at large. As long therefore as it is acknowledged that even a few women may be fit for these duties, the laws which shut the door on those exceptions cannot be justified by any opinion which can be held respecting the capacities of women in general.

Mill offers several interesting example of women in history who excel: Catherine II, Catherine Medici, Aspasia (a teacher of Socrates), the poet Sappho, Myrtis (a teacher of Pindar), Mary Somerville (a self taught woman mathematician who Mill had known). Later he argues -- successfully I feel -- that where women in sufficient numbers -- are active -- professionally -- in any activity -- they excel as well as men.

Mill then offers something more, with respect to the idea of harm. By excluding women from active participation in the choice of occupation, society is deprived of what Mill refers to as the practical wisdom women have acquired -- not by nature -- but through their education and conditioning. It's sometimes called intuition but Mill does not suggest that what we call intuition is innate. It is a rapid and correct insight into present fact. It has nothing to do with general principles... Still, this skill would be an invaluable aid to those who engage in speculation and generalities. Men and women working in concert might achieve much more.

Women, Mill also argues are quicker at apprehension, a skill that allows us to draw the best possible conclusion from insufficient data. These skills together might suggest that these principles would make women more apt at engineering, medicine, law, and police work -- especially detective work.

Many women are saddled with a reputation for being highly strung, nervous, emotional, or hysterical. So be it. But, Mill of course argues that such traits are also conditioned, even encouraged. Much of the so-called neurotic character can be accounted for as the influence of bad food and lack of exercise. But even so, he argues that those characteristics are indeed an asset in many duties of life -- especially in positions of power, in teaching, in preaching, and in rhetoric. Plato called it spirit -- one of the divisions of both the soul and of the Republic! Strong feeling is the instrument and element of strong self-control: but it requires to be cultivated in that direction. When it is, it forms not the heroes of impulse only, but those also of self-conquest. Direct the spirit and society can only gain as a result.

Mill's follow-up analysis of the strongly and passionate spirited character traits seen in the Italians, the French, versus the blunted passions of the Germans, the English and the Swiss, ought not to be read as racist characterizations. They are offered as an analogy to the differences in spirit between men and women. The differing racial manifestations of spirit can be accounted for in careful comparisons of the cultural, educational and social traditions of these different countries. He offers Rome as a counter-example. The ancient Romans were less spirited than the Italians of today -- precisely because of the social conditioning built into the Roman republic. Touche!

Mill puts the lie to comparative anatomical differences in brain sizes between men and women by offering us the elephant and whale -- animals that by this argument ought to rule the earth.

The old saw that women are imitators -- not originators -- Mill counters by again offering the example of Rome. Were Greeks smarter than Romans? No! The Greeks came first. Rome followed. All intellectual history worked that way. The present is built on the past. Period. Why have there been so few women composers? Mill answers by reminding us that -- yes, many women do compose -- and play music -- but most are amateurs. And the genius in any field is indeed rare. He offers the Doctrine of averages as a response. If there is but woman professionally trained in composition for every 50 men (a reasonable ratio in 1869) then we might expect one great woman composer for every 50 men. But, there had been fewer than 50 truly great male composers in the three centuries prior to his writing this essay -- and indeed there were in fact at least two women who might fit the category: Fanny Mendolsshon and Clara Schumann during that period -- both contemporaries of Mill.

One awfully important point Mill offers -- and one I had never really thought too much about before -- is what he calls desire of celebrity. Something he says women rarely seek -- again because of differences in conditioning. The love of fame in men is encouraged by education and opinion: to "scorn delights and live laborious days" for its sake, is accounted the part of "noble minds," even if spoken of as their "last infirmity," and is stimulated by the access which fame gives to all objects of ambition, including even the favour of women. Hmmmmm!

Mill is funny in his critique of moral differences. It's one area where women are traditionally given the lead! Women are morally better. He sacks this one right away! [This is], he says, an empty compliment, which must provoke a bitter smile from every woman of spirit, since there is no other situation in life in which it is the established order, and considered quite natural and suitable, that the better should obey the worse.

In any event, It's easy for slaves to be moral. So let's put that nonsense to rest.

Chapter Four

The benefits of losing the Master-Slave relationship by substitution the Law of Force with equality and justice are outlined in Chapter 4. The first and obvious benefit is the elimination of the terrible suffering and abuse experienced by women.

The next benefit is a doubling of intellectual resources.

The third benefit is what Mill calls the softening influence of women. Those who were not taught to fight, have naturally inclined in favour of any other mode of settling differences rather than that of fighting. He offers an example. Women were powerfully instrumental in inducing the northern conquerors to adopt the creed of Christianity, a creed so much more favourable to women than any that preceded it.

Another benefit relates to men. A man who is married to a woman his inferior in intelligence, finds her a perpetual dead weight, or, worse than a dead weight, a drag, upon every aspiration of his to be better than public opinion requires him to be. It is hardly possible for one who is in these bonds, to attain exalted virtue. This injury would disappear if women were in equal relationships to men.

A final benefit is in the domain of relations generally. Unlikeness attracts, but likeness retains. Likeness draws out the latent capacities of each for being interested in the things which were at first interesting only to the other; and works a gradual assimilation of the tastes and characters to one another, partly by the insensible modification of each, but more by a real enriching of the two natures, each acquiring the tastes and capacities of the other in addition to its own. This often happens between two friends of the same sex, who are much associated in their daily life: and it would be a common, if not the commonest, case in marriage, did not the totally different bringing up of the two sexes make it next to an impossibility to form a really well-assorted union. Were this remedied, whatever differences there might still be in individual tastes, there would at least be, as a general rule, complete unity and unanimity as to the great objects of life. When the two persons both care for great objects, and are a help and encouragement to each other in whatever regards these, the minor matters on which their tastes may differ are not all-important to them; and there is a foundation for solid friendship, of an enduring character, more likely than anything else to make it, through the whole of life, a greater pleasure to each to give pleasure to the other, than to receive it.

Books from Alibris: John Stuart Mill

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