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The Making of Modern Liberalism$
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Alan Ryan

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691148403

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691148403.001.0001

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Sense and Sensibility in Mill’s Political Thought

Sense and Sensibility in Mill’s Political Thought

(p.279) 14 Sense and Sensibility in Mill’s Political Thought
The Making of Modern Liberalism

Alan Ryan

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines John Stuart Mill's political thought, asking in particular what we can learn about his intellectual project from attention to his Autobiography. It explores the way Mill's depiction of his own life and personality illuminates his social, political, and intellectual allegiances by focusing on the interconnections between On Liberty, Autobiography, and The Subjection of Women. It suggests that Mill's ambivalence about passivity and self-assertion is related to his arguments in The Subjection of Women. There are two views one might take of this matter. One would be to argue that liberalism is ideologically committed to an unsatisfactory view of marriage and perhaps of all close personal relationships; the other would be to argue that there is no particular reason why a satisfactory liberal view of these matters cannot be developed, but that Mill himself came up short.

Keywords:   liberalism, John Stuart Mill, Autobiography, On Liberty, The Subjection of Women, passivity, self-assertion, marriage

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