The book On Liberty by John Stuart Mill written in 1859 is available here in PDF format for e-readers. You can download it below. The idea of Liberty is central idea behind our nation. The US was founded on the ideals of the enlightenment, something I personally believe in. However, the idea of individual liberty is to some extent taking second place to the idea of the common good. As warm and fuzzy the notion of the common good is, it is not the way to run your life or a nation. John Stuart Mill On Liberty explains why. Mill believed he stood in opposition to the idea that someone else has a greater wisdom to run your life than you, even if your actions are deemed immoral by current social norms.
You can download it here -> On Liberty
On a side note, John Stuart Mill had an IQ estimated to be 180 and the clarity of this though illustrates this. That is why reading On Liberty in pdf is so engaging it is written by a clear mind.
The idea of liberty is simple, the individual rather than the state, Mill writes:
over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.
John Stuart Mill was also the first to articulate the Harm Principle. That is:
the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.
These two ideas is largely the basis of libertarian political ideas and one of the reason why I am a Libertarian. It would be so easy for civilization to de-evolutionalize and resign oneself to state paternalism, but I for one will not because it is not good for me or good for society.
I also feel that Mill was insightful regarding the idea that the tyranny of the majority.
It is not that there is anything radically new in Mill’s ideas it was an explanation of the continued struggle for mankind to resist the state, the struggle between authority and liberty. The ideas were in the air and he was influenced by the German philosopher Wilhelm von Humboldt, in his essay On the Limits of State Action.
In this book you can see the connection to Utilitarianism.
I have kept this post fairly short as its main purpose was to deliver a download of On Liberty by John Stuart Mill in pdf format for ebook readers, and not to analysis it to the end. It is a short book and better you skim it than read my analysis.