- Mill’s main concern was not government censorship. It was the stultifying consequences of social conformity, of a culture where deviation from a prescribed set of opinions is punished through peer pressure and the fear of ostracism.
- In Mill’s view most likely, opposing views may each contain a portion of the truth, which need to be combined. (“Conflicting doctrines share the truth between them.”)
- For free speech to be valuable to the pursuit of truth, we all need to be both humble and open.
- We need humility to recognize that we might not be right about everything all of the time, and that we have something to learn from others.
- All silencing of discussion is an assumption of infallibility.
- No one can be a great thinker who does not recognise, that as a thinker it is his first duty to follow his intellect to whatever conclusions it may lead.
- There is a class of persons (happily not quite so numerous as formerly) who think it enough if a person assents undoubtingly to what they think true, though he has no knowledge whatever of the grounds of the opinion, and could not make a tenable defence of it against the most superficial objections.
- All languages and literatures are full of general observations on life, both as to what it is, and how to conduct oneself in it; observations which everybody knows, which everybody repeats, or hears with acquiescence, which are received as truisms, yet of which most people first truly learn the meaning, when experience, generally of a painful kind, has made it a reality to them.
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