Analysis Of The Negro Question And John Stuart Mill

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Carlyle and Mill And Their Differences Of Opinion On Nature, Agriculture, and Humanity
Thomas Carlyle’s Occasional Discourse On The Negro Question and John Stuart Mill’s responding essay, The Negro Question, primarily deal with the implications of a liberated black population in the West Indies. However, the texture of their respective arguments lends itself to rhetoric of nature and agriculture. Carlyle and Mill could not see humanity’s relationship with nature more differently. Due to different understandings of humanity’s relationship with nature,
Carlyle and Mill’s evaluation of agricultural productivity varies, thus informing their representation of blacks in the West Indies.
Thomas Carlyle and John Stuart Mill
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Instead, Mill derives satisfaction from nature’s action, citing its
“spontaneous activity” as the source of his enjoyment. In this sense, it could be suggested that
Mill sees the betterment of humanity as tethered to the betterment in nature, as increased action from nature provides increased satisfaction to humanity. Unlike Carlyle, this sets up humanity’s relationship with nature as mutual, if not subservient. To Mill, it is essential that humanity aids and works with nature, rather than extract from it.
The differences in Carlyle and Mill’s understandings of nature reflect themselves in their represented approaches to agriculture in Occasional Discourse On The Negro Question and The
Negro Question, respectively. Carlyle sees agriculture as the system capable of producing items that are valuable to humans. Mill, on the other hand, recognizes agriculture as an ongoing and hopefully mutually beneficial relationship between earth and human. Their differences in opinions are best represented in their respective treatments of commodities and land use.
Throughout the Occasional Discourse Carlyle harps on the shame of cultivating pumpkins. In fact, there is a moment in the text when Carlyle uses the phrase “merely pumpkinish” as a means to belittle the efforts of the West Indies farmers. Instead of pumpkins,
Carlyle seeks commodities of bright, blaring, obvious value from the West Indies. He emphasizes that “The

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