John Suart Mills

I'd Love to Change the World

From the winter of 1821 I had what might truly be called an object in life: to be a Reformer.

My conception of my own happiness was entirely identified with this object.

The personal sympathies I wished for were those of fellows in this enterprise.

I endeavored to pick as many flowers as I could but as a serious permanent personal satisfaction to rest upon, my whole reliance was placed on this.

I was accustomed to the certainty of a happy life which I enjoyed, by placing my happiness in something durable and distant, in which progress might be always making, while it could never be exhausted by complete attainment.

The general improvement and the idea of myself engaged with others in struggling to promote it, seemed enough to fill up an animated existence.

The time came when I awakened from this as from a dream.

It was in the autumn of 1826.

(1826: First railways begin construction. Internal Combustion engine patented in US. Janissary on the rampage, Auspicious Incident.)

I was in a dull state of nerves, such as everybody is occasionally liable to.

Unsusceptible to enjoyment or pleasurable excitement.

One of those moods when what is pleasure at other times, becomes insipid.

The mood of converts to Methodism smitten by 'conviction of sin.'

In this frame of mind it occurred to me to put the question directly to myself:

"Suppose your objects in life were realized; all the changes in institutions and opinions which you are looking forward to, could be completely effected at this very instant: would this be a great joy and happiness to you?"

And an irrepressible self-consciousness distinctly answered, "No!"

At this my heart sank: the foundation on which my life was built fell down.

All my happiness was to have been found in the continual pursuit of this end.

Once the end ceased to charm, how could there be any interest in the means?

I seemed to have nothing left to live for.

For I now saw, the habit of analysis has a tendency to wear away feelings.

When no other mental habit is cultivated analysis remains without natural complements and correctives.

The very excellence of analysis is that it tends to weaken and undermine whatever is the result of false understanding or prejudice.

It enables us mentally to separate ideas which have only casually clung together and no associations could ultimately resist this dissolving force.

We owe to analysis our clearest knowledge of the permanent sequences in nature; the real connections between things, not dependent on imaginings.

Natural law finds one thing is inseparable from another; our ideas of things joined together in Nature, cohere more and more closely in our thoughts.

Analytic habits strengthen the associations between causes and effects.

But analytic habits tend to weaken associations which are a matter of feeling.

Analytic habits are therefore favorable to prudence and clear sightedness.

But analytic habits are a perpetual worm at the root both of the passions and of the virtues; and fearfully undermine all desires, and all pleasures.

These, the laws of human nature, had been brought to my present state.

Those whom I admired were of opinion that companionship and feelings of compassion, especially toward mankind on a large scale as the object of existence, were the greatest and surest sources of happiness.

Of the truth of this I was convinced, but to know that a feeling would make me happy if I had it, did not give me the feeling.

My education, I thought, had failed to create these feelings in sufficient strength to resist the dissolving influence of analysis.

The whole course of my intellectual cultivation had made precocious and pre-mature analysis the inveterate habit of my mind.

The fountains of vanity and motivation seemed to have dried up within me, as completely as the river of benevolence, I once had.

Thus neither selfish nor unselfish pleasures were pleasures to me.

There seemed no power in nature sufficient to reform my character anew.

My mind, now irretrievably analytic, needed fresh associations of pleasure combined with objects of human desire to relish living again.

I asked myself if I was bound to life must be passed in this manner?

I did not think I could possibly bear it beyond a year.

In all probability my case was by no means so peculiar as I fancied.

A vivid conception of the scene came over me, and I was moved to tears.

From this moment my burden grew lighter.

The oppression of the thought that all feeling was dead within me, was gone.

I was no longer hopeless.

Relieved from my present sense of irremediable wretchedness, I gradually found that the ordinary incidents of life could again give me some pleasure.

I found enjoyment in sunshine and sky; books; conversation; public affairs.

There was excitement in exerting my opinions for the public good.

Thus the cloud gradually drew off.

I never again was as miserable as I had been.

The experiences of this period led me to adopt a theory of life, unlike that on which I had before acted having much in common with what at that time I certainly had never heard of, the automaton theory of Thomas Carlyle.

I now understood happiness was attained by not making it the direct end.

Only those with minds fixed on some object other than their own happiness; on the happiness of others, on the improvement of mankind, even on some art or pursuit, followed not as a means, but as itself an ideal end, are happy.

Aiming thus at something else, they find happiness by the Way.

Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so.

The only chance for happiness is finding it within the purpose of living.

In fortunate circumstances you will inhale happiness with the air you breathe never putting it to flight with fatal questioning.

This theory now became the basis of my philosophy of life.

I still hold it as the best theory for those who have but a moderate degree of sensibility and of capacity for enjoyment - the great majority of mankind.

I ceased to attach exclusive importance on ordering outward circumstances.

I saw passive susceptibilities needed to be cultivated as well as the active capacities and both required to be nourished and enriched as well as guided.

Maintenance of balance among the faculties, seemed of primary importance.

patterns in sound

1829 Edinburgh Review published Thomas Carlyle's "Signs of the Times".

In "Signs of the Times", Carlyle warns the Industrial Revolution is turning people into mechanical automatons devoid of individuality and spirituality.

The division of society and the poverty of the majority began to dominate the minds of the most intelligent and imaginative people outside politics following the 1832 Reform Act.

The "Condition of England Question" was a phrase coined by Thomas Carlyle in 1839 to chronicle the conditions of the English working-class during the Industrial Revolution.

There was a growing sense of anger at the culture of amateurism in official government circles which produced this misery.

Structural changes in the economy led many to question whether the country had taken a wrong turning.

Would manufacturing towns ever be loyal?

Was poverty eating up capital?

Was it safe to depend upon imports for food and raw materials?

Could the fleet keep the seas open?

Should government encourage emigration and require those who remained behind to support themselves by spade husbandry?

These were the 'Condition of England' questions".

Michael William Balfe

Come Back to Erin

The Holy City by Stephen Adams

A Perfect Day by Carrie Jacobs-Bond

I now began to find meaning in the importance of poetry and art.

The only imaginative arts I had taken pleasure in was music.

The best effect consists in winding up to a high pitch feelings of an elevated category to which this excitement gives a glow and a fervor, which, though transitory at its utmost height, is precious for sustaining them at other times.

This effect of music I had often experienced; but like all my pleasurable susceptibilities it was suspended during the gloomy period.

I had sought relief again and again from this quarter, but found none.

After the tide had turned, and I was in process of recovery, I had been helped forward by music, but in a much less elevated manner.

I became acquainted with Weber's Oberon, and the extreme pleasure showed me a source of pleasure to which I was as susceptible as ever.

Happiness was impaired by the thought the pleasure of music fades with familiarity requiring revival through intermittence or continual novelty.

I was seriously tormented by the exhaustibility of musical combinations.

This source of anxiety may, perhaps, be thought to resemble that of the philosophers of Laputa, who feared lest the sun should be burnt out.

In the power of rural beauty, there was a foundation laid for pleasure in Wordsworth's poetry as his scenery lies mostly mountains, which, owing to my early Pyrenean excursion, were my ideal of natural beauty.

What made Wordsworth's poems a medicine for my state of mind, was that they expressed, not mere outward beauty, but states of feeling, of thought colored by feeling; the excitement of the rememberance of natural beauty.

They seemed to be the very culture of the feelings, which I was in quest of.

In them I seemed to draw from a source of inward joy, of sympathetic and imaginative pleasure, which could be shared in by all human beings; which had no connection with struggle or imperfection, but would be made richer by every improvement in the physical or social condition of mankind.

From them I seemed to learn what would be the perennial sources of happiness, when all the greater evils of life shall have been removed.

And I felt myself at once better and happier as I came under their influence.

There have certainly been greater poets than Wordsworth; poetry of deeper and loftier feeling could not have done for me at that time what his did.

I needed to feel there was permanent happiness in tranquil contemplation.

Wordsworth taught me this, not only without turning away from, but with a greatly increased interest in the common feelings and destiny of people.

The delight which these poems gave me, proved that with culture of this sort, there was nothing to dread from the most confirmed habit of analysis.

"Fortunately analysis is not the only way to resolve inner conflicts.

Life itself still remains a very effective therapist."

Karen Horney, German psychoanalyst

The aim, therefore, of patriots, was to set limits to the power which the ruler should exercise over the community; and this limitation was what they meant by liberty; protection from the tyranny of political rulers.

It was attempted in two ways.

First, by obtaining a recognition political liberties or rights, which it was to be regarded as a breach of duty in the ruler to infringe, and which, if he did infringe, specific résistance, or general rebellion, was held to be justifiable.

A second, and generally a later expedient, was the establishment of constitutional checks; by which the consent of the community, or of a body of some sort supposed to represent community interests, was made a necessary condition to some important acts of the governing power.

A time, however, came in the progress of human affairs, when men ceased to think it a necessity of nature that their governors should be an independent power, opposed in interest to themselves.

It appeared to them much better that the various magistrates of the State should be their tenants or delegates, revocable at their pleasure.

In that way alone, it seemed, could they have complete security that the powers of government would never be abused to their disadvantage.

The clearer perception and livelier impression of truth produced by its collision with error.

If any opinion be compelled to silence that opinion must be true.

To deny this is to assume our own infallibility.

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