John Stuart Mill

John Stuart Mill

John Stuart Mill

John Stuart Mill

Synopsis

First published in 1976, this volume offers a significant new interpretation of Mill's political thought, Mill's ambivalent attitude to democracy is carefully examined. The implications for modern democracy of Mill's views on consensus and leadership, bureaucracy and participation, equality and liberty emerge from a deep understanding of Mill's place in 19th century ideas.

Excerpt

This book offers an introduction to the political thinking of John Stuart Mill‚ a deeply pessimistic and humourless man, with conflicting commitments borrowed from many different sources. As an introduction, it can do little more than point towards these, indicating the most important ones here and there. The introductory format may also tend to suggest rather more coherence and clarity than actually exists in Mill’s writings. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Ever since his death in 1873, commentators and critics have been busy sniffing out contradictions and hunting down paradoxes. No one doubts that this has been very valuable; quite rightly, political theorists have become suspicious of those who think and write badly. But there is always coherence as well as incoherence, success as well as failure, and the commentator should always set one in the context of the other. Only the reader can judge whether this has been done adequately in this case. At least I have tried to avoid the enormous condescension which runs through so many recent interpretations of Mill.

Four people have been particularly helpful in the production of this book. Miss Jean Fife was all that a typist ought to be. Professor Wilfrid Harrison and Dr Peter Burnell, colleagues in the Department of Politics, read the whole of the typescript with great care and consideration. Their comments were always helpful. Professor Geraint Parry, the editor of this series and a former colleague, showed the two prime virtues of all good editors— patience and efficiency. My grateful thanks go to them all. Obviously, they are not to blame for whatever defects and mistakes remain.

Coventry‚ August 1975

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