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John Stuart Mill and Karl Marx

Both John Stuart Mill and Karl Marx were philosophers with a strong emphasis on individual freedom. Mill viewed freedom under a legitimate government concerned with the greatest good as necessary and possible. Mill (93) argued in On Liberty that individual freedom is and must be viewed as a "sacrosanct" quality, and that there are few if any circumstances under which a state may rightfully interfere with individual freedom. Karl Marx also theorized about society's evolution toward true freedom, believing society evolved toward freedom in historical stages. He viewed capitalism as a necessary stage toward evolution of true freedom, one that was required to bring about through alienation of labor a revolution that would shift the means of production and create a communist society. As Sullivan (1) suggests, "Marx was concerned ultimately with human freedom, reviving the ancient concept of communism, wherein human beings could fulfill their cooperative roles within society without fear of exploitation." This analysis will provide a discussion of Mill's liberal view of individual freedom and Marx' social class and economic view of individual freedom. A conclusion will discuss whether or not Karl Marx' analysis successfully counters and provides an adequate and convincing alternative to John Mill's much more liberal understanding of freedom.

John Stuart Mill's liberal philosophy of personal or individual freedom stems from his belief that the purpose of life is to develop the highest faculties possible on the individual level. This Aristotelian conception of the purpose or aim of life requires freedom and a number of situations to Mill. Above all, however, the individual must be free in the utmost to pursue his personal happiness in relation to society and state. A legitimate state will create checks on the human tendency for self-serving behavior, but the fundamental principle of this freedom's existence is that individuals sho...

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John Stuart Mill and Karl Marx. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 08:30, December 09, 2016, from