In John Stuart Mill’s second chapter in On Liberty, he discusses the liberty of thought and discussion, and more importantly, describes the importance of dissenting opinion. Mill describes that the “peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race.” (Mill 614). He argues, “to refuse a hearing to an opinion, because they are sure that it is false, is to assume that their certainty is the same thing as absolute certainty.” (Mill 615). It is important to notice the distinction between the certainty of the public and absolute certainty. Mill absolutely rejects the idea that truths can be accepted without hearing dissenting opinion. As he says,
Nietzsche is widely known as a critic of religion. In fact, he talks in depth about morality in regards to religion in his essays about the genealogy of morals. But the problem is not within religion itself or within morals. The problem is involved in the combination of the two to create society’s understanding of morality through a very religious lens. In fact, Nietzsche has criticism for almost any set of morals constructed by a group of individuals and meant to be applied to society as a whole. True morality, according to Nietzsche, requires a separation from these group dynamic views of morality- or at least a sincere look into where they originated and why they persist- and a movement towards a more introverted, and intrinsically personalized understanding of what morals mean in spite of the fact that “the normative force to which every member of society is exposed, in the form of obligations, codes of behavior, and other moral rules and guidelines, is disproportionally high” (Korfmacher 6).
Masters and slaves are constantly discussed throughout Nietzsche’s work, but the connection between them is discussed best in his book On the Genealogy of Morality. The first of the three essays outlines two alternate structures for the creation of values, which is credited to masters and the other to slaves.
Mill has an “eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” standpoint. If a person commits a terrible crime, they are nowhere near reaching a desirable end, nor do they have capacity to be virtuous, as Aristotle would say. If somebody is guilty of murder, then life in jail is too mild of a punishment for the crime he committed. It goes the other way around too. If somebody is guilty of theft, then life in jail may be too hard of a punishment for that particular crime. Mill believes the only efficient punishment is one that is exactly equal to the crime. He doesn’t think a murderer should be allowed to live on with the potential to murder again. Another thing Mill focuses on is general responses among a society. He believes the only way to find desirable pleasure is to ask people and get a general response. So if you asked the family of a murder victim what they would like to see happen to the murderer, a probable general response would be to have him sentenced to death as well, and that is exactly what should happen.
According to Mill, the ideal conditions for both a society and individual to flourish exist when the prevailing opinion in society favors individuals with non-normative, original ideas. Mill, somewhat gratuitously,
“As soon as a religion comes to dominate it has as its opponents all those who would have been its first disciples.” Nietzsche was one of the first modern philosophers to rebel against rationalism and when World War I came about, the revolution against religion truly became a legitimate statement. Friedrich Nietzsche strongly believed that many of those that practiced religion were led to the acceptance of slave morality. Religion had always played a fundamental role in society as it sets strict boundaries and standards of what is morally correct and incorrect. However, Nietzsche claims that, “Human nature is always driven by “ ‘the will to power’ ”, but religion will tell one otherwise, saying that one should forbid their bad desires. In Nietzsche’s
Indeed, Mill asserted that the cultivation of one's individuality should be the goal of human existence. He wrote On Liberty as an argument against repressive laws which inhibit voluntary association and suppress original ideas and ways of thinking, in a bid to protect the freedom of the individual from stifling social conventions, oppressive legal controls and censorship. What is the value of individual liberty that calls for it to be defended so fervently by Mill?
First, Mill pointed out that everyone has their own judgments and no one has the right to decide an issue for all people. The liberty of an opinion is often up for debate because we are all confident in our own rightness, even though that confidence is not justified. “They have no authority to decide the question for all mankind, and exclude every other person from the means of judging. To refuse a hearing to an opinion, because they are sure that it is false, is to assume that their certainty is the same thing as absolute certainty. All silencing of discussion is an assumption of infallibility.” (Mill, II.3). Mill pointed out that silencing a potentially true idea hurts society because it is shielded from that possible truth. You never can
In Nietzsche’s aphorisms 90-95 and 146-162 he attacks what he believes to be the fundamental basis of the “slave” morality prevalent in the Judeo-Christian tradition as well as other religions and societies. From the beginning, he distinguishes the two different types of moralities he believes to exist: the “master morality”, created by rulers of societies, and the “slave” morality, created by the lowest people in societies. The former stresses virtues of the strong and noble while looking down upon the weak and cowardly. This type of morality, however, is not as widespread as the “slave morality” that has been adopted by so many religions. Nietzsche looks through the psychology and logic of
Nietzsche points out that morals were not given to humans by God, nor was knowledge or instinct instilled in us by God: we have created morality just as we have decided standards for "truth" and explanations for our "human nature," and so there is no transcendent external standard. If God is dead, there are no objective values and we are free to create our own values. Nietzsche says that although the death of God liberates us, leaving us free to rule ourselves, this results in a cage-like freedom: while no value is objectively "right" or "true", if we can not choose then we are not free. Nietzsche supports the individual who, despite a lack of objective correctness or "truth", makes a decision anyway, accepting responsibility for her self-created values and actions, knowing she is these actions.
Mill concerns his principle of individuality with the idea that each person should be allowed to develop his own ideas and frameworks in which he lives, as long as he acts in a civilized manner, contends no harm to others, and is capable of creating such opinions. Mill describes this notion by stating that, “… the object “toward which every human being must ceaselessly direct his efforts… is the individuality of power and development”; that for and that from the union of these arise “individual rigor and manifold diversity” which combine themselves in “originality”” (Mill 55). Contradictory to the evolutionary ideals of Wilson, Mill stresses the notion
Mill is extremely clear as to why the individual should be sovereign over his or her body and mindto counter the effects of a possible "tyranny of the majority." Mill states, "It (the majority) practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself" (63).
A primary objective of identifying common ground between Nietzsche and Mill’s ideas of freedom is to define freedom adequately so that it can be used as a basis for comparison. Each theorist’s opinion on what freedom is, however, appears to be fairly distinct. Mill might describe freedom as the absence of constraints to original, individual thought, whereas Nietzsche conceptualizes freedom as continual self-overcoming to evolve a more actualized self. Freedom for Nietzsche is overcoming wrong beliefs and creating one’s own values, whereas for Mill, freedom is having the leeway to discover one’s own values. In effect, Mill focuses on the structural protections or necessities that allow creativity to flourish, and Nietzsche wants to deconstruct those structures that impede that flourishing. Mill emphasizes optimizing the political and social realms, which in theory then provide a safe haven for Nietzsche’s intrapsychic or spiritual struggle. Thus, Mill 's definition could be described as political whereas Nietzsche 's could be understood as transformational. Both strive toward achieving the highest level of individual potential, and both want to support discovery of one’s most individualized beliefs. Given that each theorist has such distinct views on the definition itself, however, one needs to extrapolate the essence of what each would consider freedom to be. So for the purposes of describing how Mill and Nietzsche intersect, this approximation of a