Comparing Rousseau And Mill On Liberty Essay

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The term “civil or social liberties” is one that garners a lot of attention and focus from both Rousseau and Mill, although they tackle the subject from slightly different angles. Rousseau believes that the fundamental problem facing people’s capacity to leave the state of nature and enter a society in which their liberty is protected is the ability to “find a form of association that defends and protects the person and goods of each associate with all the common force, and by means of which each one, uniting with all, nevertheless obeys only himself and remains as free as before” (Rousseau 53). Man is forced to leave the state of nature because their resistance to the obstacles faced is beginning to fail (Rousseau 52). Mill does not …show more content…
By joining civil society and becoming a part of the general will, man is enriching his actions with a morality and rationality that was previously lacking. As he states in Book I, Chapter VIII, “although in this state he deprives himself of several advantages given to him by nature, he gains such great ones…that changed him from a stupid, limited animal into an intelligent being and a man” (Rousseau 56). What man posses in nature is an unlimited physical freedom to pursue everything that tempts him, although this is viewed by Rousseau as almost an enslavement towards one’s own instincts. In a civil state man is benefited by “substituting justice for instinct in his behaviour and giving his actions the morality they previously lacked” (Rousseau 54). In acting in accordance with the general will man is granted the most important form of all freedoms, civil freedom.

Freedom of individuality is seen as the essential form of freedom according to Mill. The freedom of thought and speech, discussed in Chapter 2, do play a pivotal role in ensuring freedom, however, they are viewed more as a means to an end rather than being something that should be pursued for its own good. The freedom of individuality is essential for human progress and development and “it is only the cultivation of individuality which produces, or can produce, well-developed human beings” (Mill 70). It is this stressed importance on the importance of
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