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Mill rejects attempts, either through legal coercion or social pressure, to coerce people's opinions and behavior.He argues that the only time coercion is acceptable is when a person's behavior harms other people--otherwise, society should treat diversity with respect.
The book begins with a biographical essay by David Bromwich and an interpretative essay by George Kateb.
Then Jean Bethke Elshtain, Owen Fiss, Judge Richard A.
Jean Bethke Elshtain is Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics at the University of Chicago.
Owen Fiss is Sterling Professor of Law at Yale University.
Henry Hardy, a Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford, is one of Isaiah Berlin's literary trustees.
He has edited several other volumes by Berlin, and is currently preparing Berlin's letters and remaining unpublished writings for publication.
Certainly this has been the most radical, and indeed dramatic, not to say terrifying, change in men's outlook in modern times." In these brilliant lectures Berlin surveys the myriad attempts to define Romanticism, distills its essence, traces its developments from its first stirrings to its apotheosis, and shows how its lasting legacy permeates our own outlook.
Combining the freshness and immediacy of the spoken word with Berlin's inimitable eloquence and wit, the lectures range over a cast of the greatest thinkers and artists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, including Kant, Rousseau, Diderot, Schiller, Schlegel, Novalis, Goethe, Blake, Byron, and Beethoven.
Mill's mission in writing On Liberty can perhaps be best understood by looking at how he discussed his work in his Autobiography.
Mill wrote that he believed On Liberty to be about "the importance, to man and society, of a large variety in types of character, and of giving full freedom to human nature to expand itself in innumerable and conflicting directions." This celebration of individuality and disdain for conformity runs throughout On Liberty.