91 John Stuart Mill Quotes from the Famous English Philosopher

John Stuart Mill was a pivotal figure in 19th-century British thought and politics, contributing extensively to various fields like logic, epistemology, economics and social philosophy.

His most notable works such as “On Liberty,” “Utilitarianism,” and “The Subjection of Women,” showcase his broad intellectual spectrum.

Mill was educated rigorously by his father, James Mill, a key figure among the “Philosophic Radicals,” who championed rational law, universal male suffrage and decision-making grounded in economic theory.

John Stuart Mill

Exposed to thinkers like Goethe, Wordsworth and Carlyle, Mill evolved towards a philosophic radicalism, emphasizing the significance of culture, history and the human spirit.

In his works, Mill combated the “intuitionism” school of thought, promoting instead empirical foundations.

Ethically, he highlighted the principle of utility and advocated for women’s rights and the “harm principle” in governance.

Here is a best collection of quotes by John Stuart Mill.

Best John Stuart Mill Quotes


He who does anything because it is the custom, makes no choice. ~ John Stuart Mill.

Genius can only breathe freely in an atmosphere of freedom. ~ John Stuart Mill.

It is a law that every event depends on the same law. ~ John Stuart Mill.

The habit of analysis has a tendency to wear away the feelings. ~ John Stuart Mill.

Language is the light of the mind. ~ John Stuart Mill.

Laws and systems of polity always begin by recognizing the relations they find already existing between individuals. ~ John Stuart Mill.

No one can be a great thinker who does not recognize that as a thinker it is his first duty to follow his intellect to whatever conclusions it may lead. ~ John Stuart Mill.

Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative. ~ John Stuart Mill.

The liberty of the individual must be thus far limited; he must not make himself a nuisance to other people. ~ John Stuart Mill.

Actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness; wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. By happiness is intended pleasure and the absence of pain. ~ John Stuart Mill.

One person with a belief is equal to ninety-nine who have only interests. ~ John Stuart Mill.

A party of order or stability, and a party of progress or reform, are both necessary elements of a healthy state of political life. ~ John Stuart Mill.

A state which dwarfs its men, in order that they may be more docile instruments in its hands even for beneficial purposes – will find that with small men no great thing can really be accomplished. ~ John Stuart Mill.

Strange it is that men should admit the validity of the arguments for free speech but object to their being pushed to an extreme”, not seeing that unless the reasons are good for an extreme case, they are not good for any case. ~ John Stuart Mill.

Wise John Stuart Mill Quotes

The amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigor, and moral courage it contained. That so few now dare to be eccentric marks the chief danger of the time. ~ John Stuart Mill.

Whatever crushes individuality is despotism. ~ John Stuart Mill.

Strong impulses are but another name for energy. Energy may be turned to bad uses; but more good may always be made of an energetic nature, than of an indolent and impassive one. ~ John Stuart Mill.

Sometimes you hit a point where you either change or self-destruct. ~ John Stuart Mill.

Ask yourself whether you are happy and you cease to be so. The only chance is to treat not happiness, but some end external to it, as the purpose of life. ~ John Stuart Mill.

The study of science teaches young men to think, while study of the classics teaches them to express thought. ~ John Stuart Mill.

Life has a certain flavor for those who have fought and risked all that the sheltered and protected can never experience. ~ John Stuart Mill.

Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so. ~ John Stuart Mill.

All the good of which humanity is capable is comprised in obedience. ~ John Stuart Mill.

Liberty lies in the rights of that person whose views you find most odious. ~ John Stuart Mill.

The concessions of the privileged to the unprivileged are seldom brought about by any better motive than the power of the unprivileged to extort them. ~ John Stuart Mill.

It is better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a pig satisfied. ~ John Stuart Mill.

Truth gains more even by the errors of one who, with due study and preparation, thinks for himself, than by the true opinions of those who only hold them because they do not suffer themselves to think… ~ John Stuart Mill.

All good things which exist are the fruits of originality. ~ John Stuart Mill.

Top John Stuart Mill Quotes

The worth of the state, in the long run, is the worth of the individuals composing it. ~ John Stuart Mill.

The principle itself of dogmatic religion, dogmatic morality, dogmatic philosophy, is what requires to be booted out; not any particular manifestation of that principle. ~ John Stuart Mill.

To tax the larger incomes at a higher percentage than the smaller, is to lay a tax on industry and economy; to impose a penalty on people for having worked harder and saved more than their neighbors. ~ John Stuart Mill.


Over one’s mind and over one’s body the individual is sovereign. ~ John Stuart Mill.

A person may cause evil to others not only by his actions but by his inaction, and in either case he is justly accountable to them for the injury. ~ John Stuart Mill.

So long as an opinion is strongly rooted in the feelings, it gains rather than loses in stability by having a preponderating weight of argument against it. ~ John Stuart Mill.

Whatever crushes individuality is despotism, by whatever name it may be called and whether it professes to be enforcing the will of God or the injunctions of men. ~ John Stuart Mill.

It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or the pig, are of a different opinion, it is because they only know their own side of the question. ~ John Stuart Mill.

The most important thing women have to do is to stir up the zeal of women themselves. ~ John Stuart Mill.

Truth emerges from the clash of adverse ideas. ~ John Stuart Mill.

A cultivated mind is one to which the fountains of knowledge have been opened, and which has been taught, in any tolerable degree, to exercise its faculties. ~ John Stuart Mill.

Famous John Stuart Mill Quotes

That so few now dare to be eccentric, marks the chief danger of the time. ~ John Stuart Mill.

The reasons for legal intervention in favour of children apply not less strongly to the case of those unfortunate slaves and victims of the most brutal part of mankind – the lower animals. ~ John Stuart Mill.

Any society which is not improving is deteriorating, and the more so the closer and more familiar it is. Even a really superior man almost always begins to deteriorate when he is habitually king of his company. ~ John Stuart Mill.

I have observed that not the man who hopes when others despair, but the man who despairs when others hope, is admired by a large class of persons as a sage. ~ John Stuart Mill.

Both teachers and learners go to sleep at their post as soon as there is no enemy in the field. ~ John Stuart Mill.

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. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant. ~ John Stuart Mill.

It is given to no human being to stereotype a set of truths, and walk safely by their guidance with his mind’s eye closed. ~ John Stuart Mill.

The average condition of the people improving or deteriorating, depends upon whether population is advancing faster than improvement, or improvement than population. ~ John Stuart Mill.

Everyone who receives the protection of society owes a return for the benefit. ~ John Stuart Mill.

The perpetual obstacle to human advancement is custom. ~ John Stuart Mill.

Everything must be free to be written and published without restraint. ~ John Stuart Mill.

Human nature is not a machine to be built after a model, and set to do exactly the work prescribed for it, but a tree, which requires to grow and develop itself on all sides, according to the tendency of the inward forces which make it a living thing. ~ John Stuart Mill.

The beliefs which we have most warrant for, have no safeguard to rest on, but a standing invitation to the whole world to prove them unfounded. ~ John Stuart Mill.

It is useful while mankind is imperfect that there should be different opinions, so that there should be different experiments of living, that free scope should be given to varieties of character, short of injury to others. ~ John Stuart Mill.

Everyone is degraded, whether aware of it or not, when other people, without consulting him, take upon themselves unlimited power to regulate his destiny. ~ John Stuart Mill.

Great John Stuart Mill Quotes

Next to selfishness the principal cause which makes life unsatisfactory is want of mental cultivation. ~ John Stuart Mill.

A profound conviction raises a man above the feeling of ridicule. ~ John Stuart Mill.

The individual is not accountable to society for his actions in so far as these concern the interests of no person but himself. ~ John Stuart Mill.

There is always hope when people are forced to listen to both sides. ~ John Stuart Mill.

Every great movement must experience three stages: ridicule, discussion, adoption. ~ John Stuart Mill.

Political Economy as a branch of science is extremely modern; but the subject with which its enquiries are conversant has in all ages necessarily constituted one of the chief practical interests of mankind. ~ John Stuart Mill.

Men do not desire to be rich, but to be richer than other men. ~ John Stuart Mill.

If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind. ~ John Stuart Mill.


All silencing of discussion is an assumption of infallibility. ~ John Stuart Mill.

As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other. ~ John Stuart Mill.

How can great minds be produced in a country where the test of great minds is agreeing in the opinion of small minds? ~ John Stuart Mill.

Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest. ~ John Stuart Mill.

There is an imaginary circle drawn around every human being, over which no government should be able to step. ~ John Stuart Mill.

Profound John Stuart Mill Quotes

Any participation, even in the smallest public function, is useful. ~ John Stuart Mill.

Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing. ~ John Stuart Mill.

In its narrowest acceptation, order means obedience. A government is said to preserve order if it succeeds in getting itself obeyed. ~ John Stuart Mill.

When one’s ideas are not challenged, one’s ability to defend them weakens. ~ John Stuart Mill.

No great improvements in the lot of mankind are possible until a great change takes place in the fundamental constitution of their modes of thought. ~ John Stuart Mill.

The despotism of custom is everywhere the standing hindrance to human advancement. ~ John Stuart Mill.

The love of power and the love of liberty are in eternal antagonism. ~ John Stuart Mill.

I have learned to seek my happiness by limiting my desires, rather than in attempting to satisfy them. ~ John Stuart Mill.

Art is the employment of the powers of nature for an end. ~ John Stuart Mill.

Landlords grow rich in their sleep without working, risking or economizing. ~ John Stuart Mill.

The human faculties of perception, judgment, discriminative feeling, mental activity, and even moral preference, are exercised only in making a choice. He who does anything because it is the custom, makes no choice. ~ John Stuart Mill.

What is contrary to women’s nature to do, they never will be made to do by simply giving their nature free play. ~ John Stuart Mill.

My father taught me that the question Who made me? cannot be answered, since it immediately suggests the further question, Who made God?”

The price paid for intellectual pacification is the sacrifice of the entire moral courage of the human mind. ~ John Stuart Mill.

It is part of the irony of life that the strongest feelings of devoted gratitude of which human nature seems to be susceptible, are called forth in human beings towards those who, having the power entirely to crush their earthly existence, voluntarily refrain from using that power. ~ John Stuart Mill.

Customs are made for customary circumstances, and customary characters. ~ John Stuart Mill.

Marriage is the only actual bondage known to our law. There remain no legal slaves, except the mistress of every house. ~ John Stuart Mill.

Deep John Stuart Mill Quotes

There are many truths of which the full meaning cannot be realized until personal experience has brought it home. ~ John Stuart Mill.

Originality is the one thing which unoriginal minds cannot feel the use of. ~ John Stuart Mill.

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. ~ John Stuart Mill.


Liberty consists in doing what one desires. ~ John Stuart Mill.

Whatever helps to shape the human being – to make the individual what he is, or hinder him from being what he is not – is part of his education. ~ John Stuart Mill.

A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. ~ John Stuart Mill.

After the primary necessities of food and raiment, freedom is the first and strongest want of human nature. ~ John Stuart Mill.

Every man who says frankly and fully what he thinks is so far doing a public service. We should be grateful to him for attacking most unsparingly our most cherished opinions. ~ John Stuart Mill.

So these were the 91 top John Stuart Mill quotes on life, society and politics.

About John Stuart Mill

John Stuart Mill was born on May 19th 1806 in London, England. He was a philosopher, economist, social reformer, political theorist, historian, and jurist.

His work spanned many fields including economics, politics, history, philosophy, education, law, religion, and literature.

In his book A System of Logic (1843), he developed a system of logic that emphasized clarity over complexity. This approach to logic was later known as logical positivism.

John Stuart Mill’s father was James Mill, who was a famous Scottish philosopher and political economist. His mother Harriet Taylor was a woman of strong character and intellect. She was a friend of Mary Wollstonecraft, the author of Vindication of the Rights of Women.

John Stuart Mill was educated at Eton College where he studied under Thomas Arnold, headmaster of Rugby School. After graduating from Eton, Mill went on to study Law at Christ Church, Oxford.

While studying at Oxford, Mill became involved in the movement called the Radical Enlightenment. This movement sought to improve society through rational thought.

Mill was influenced by Jeremy Bentham, a British philosopher and lawyer. Bentham believed that people should be treated fairly and rationally.

He advocated for the use of utilitarianism as a guide to action. Utilitarianism is the idea that actions are right if they produce the greatest good for the greatest number of people.

Mill was a supporter of women’s rights. He wrote extensively about the subject and argued that women should have equal access to education and employment opportunities.

Mill was a proponent of free trade and opposed government intervention into business affairs. He believed that governments should not interfere with the market economy.

If you like these quotes and sayings, then you can also read my other posts on Harriet Beecher Stowe quotes and Jessica Rabbit quotes.

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Chandan Negi
Chandan Negi

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