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Mill’s “Of the Liberty of Thought and Discussion” HMXP 102 Dr. Fike.

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Presentation on theme: "Mill’s “Of the Liberty of Thought and Discussion” HMXP 102 Dr. Fike."— Presentation transcript:

1 Mill’s “Of the Liberty of Thought and Discussion” HMXP 102 Dr. Fike

2 Vocabulary utilitarianism acquiescence dissentients (those who dissent but also those who are not sentient?) torpid superadd temperate interdict calumny vituperation

3 Note The next slide contains some items that reflect Mill’s statements not in your excerpt. Have a go at them anyway. Based on what you do know about Mill from your reading, can you infer his positions? Note: ALL of them are relevant to your human experience.

4 Unofficial Pop Quiz Answer True of False to following statements (3 minutes): 1.The free expression of opinion must always be allowed. 2.Those who do anything because it is the custom make no choice at all. 3.Whatever is not a duty is a sin. 4.Man needs no capacity but that of surrendering himself to the will of God. 5.Whatever crushes individuality is despotism 6.Only the cultivation of individuality can produce well-developed human beings. 7.Collective mediocrity rules America. 8.Calvinism patronizes (i.e., serves as a sponsor for) pinched, hidebound people. 9.Calvinist self-denial is better than pagan self-assertion. 10.Eccentricity is admirable and essential. 11.Women will never be the equals of men. 12.There are definite moral and rational differences between men and women. 13.You are more like a Dutch canal than a Niagara Falls.

5 Answers 1.False 2.True 3.False 4.False 5.True 6.True 7.True 8.True 9.False 10.True 11.False 12.False 13.???

6 Main Points According to JSM, why is liberty of expression important? See the summary on page 36, col. 1. What four points is he making?

7 Passage To Read and Discuss: From page 34, column 2 to page 35, column 1 What is the relationship between dogma, creed, doctrine, heresy (35, col. 2), and truth? Here is another way to ask the question: What is the evolution of an idea? How do these categories relate to the liberty of thought and expression? Does one hinder the other? What are "dissentients"? What is the connection to passive reception of ideas? What metaphors do you find here? According to Mill, what should be the role of "personal experience" (mentioned again on page 36, col. 1, end of the long par.)?

8 Group Activity What kind of dogmas ARE there? Religious? Political? Cultural? Racial? List as many areas as you can. (3-4 minutes) Pick one area and generate as many dogmas/creeds/doctrines as you can. (5 minutes) Pick one dogma and identify the possible positions that one might take on it. (5 minutes) If you run out of things to say, repeat this narrowing exercise for another area. Make a presentation to the class based on your group's discoveries. (If you wish, you can write a paper on a dogma relevant to your own life.)

9 Personal Application Have you "inherited" or "adopted" your dogmas? Accordingly, are they "dead dogma[s]" (see page 34, right column)? Or do you believe that a dogma can be inherited but still full of life (a "living truth")? (You get the metaphorical nature of Mill's language here, right?) How can we be confident that we are embracing the Truth and not just another dogma (small “t” truth)?

10 Connections Can you make any connections to Plato's cave dwellers? Are dogmas what Plato would call "bonds"? Can a dogma be good as well as bad? Do dogmas function in the same way as Lakoff's metaphors in regard to reality--namely, keeping us from apprehending the truth directly? If you had to draw circles to show the relationship between dogma and truth, what would your circles look like?

11 Censorship Is censorship ever appropriate? What is Mill's opinion on this issue? See especially page 33 and his discussion of "temperate" debate on page 36. What would Mill make of Ward Churchill? Using Mill's principles (summarized on page 36), how would you analyze Churchill's remarks? Consider also Mill's statements about "intemperate" remarks.Ward Churchill

12 Passage from On Liberty Not in Your Book “No one pretends that actions should be as free as opinions. On the contrary, even opinions lose their immunity when the circumstances in which they are expressed are such as to constitute their expression a positive instigation to some mischievous act. … The liberty of the individual must be thus far limited; he must not make himself a nuisance to other people.”

13 Fallacies What argumentative strategies does Mill oppose on page 36? What fallacies does he identify? Have a look at our fallacies handout.our fallacies handout

14 Fill in the Blanks What does Mill suggest about human nature? Answering this question will require close reading. Here are some hints: We tend to receive opinions_______. We succumb to _______________________ (two words). We think in ____________ terms. Human nature is _____________.

15 Answers We tend to receive opinions “passively” (35, left). We succumb to belief perseverence. We think in binary terms. Human nature is fallible.

16 Truth What position does Mill take on truth? Hints: It is a ____________ process. It is NOT an ____________; it is a ____________. And "____________ experience" (35, left) is an important element in active learning.

17 Answers It is a dynamic and dialogical process. It is NOT an artifact (something static); it is a construct. And “personal experience" is an important element in active learning.

18 Your SELF How do you understand yourself differently or better as a result of reading and discussing Mill’s text? END


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