• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Compare and Contrast the Philisophical Contributions of Nietzsche and Mill to our understanding of political and social tyranny.

Extracts from this document...


Compare and contrast the philosophical contributions Nietzsche and Mill make to our understanding of political and social tyranny. Both philosophers, Nietzsche and Mill make contrasting and similar contributions to our understanding of the two terms. I intend explore how each philosopher does this and the differences and similarities between their two philosophies. Before comparing and contrasting the contributions of both Nietzsche and Mill to our understanding of political and social tyranny, it is important to define exactly what these terms mean, and to distinguish between the two. Political tyranny on the one hand is the imposition of positive liberty by a tyrant to an individual or a collective group of individuals. That is, a situation where a certain way of life is dictated to citizens through the presence of obstacles, barriers or constraints. If we lived in a politically tyrannical society, we would be living under the control of a dictator, ruled by a single governing body. Furthermore, the pressure for an individual to conform to these "rules" can be seen as a result of ones fear of public disapproval - a recognised form of social tyranny. Philosopher John Stewart Mill, rigorously educated by his philosopher father James Mill, began making contributions to politics and philosophy from the early 1830s, when he wrote profusely on such political and philosophical matters. He was greatly influenced by the works of Jeremy Bentham and his interested in Utilitarianism. Mill's book, "On Liberty" published in 1859 and written with his wife, saw Mill move away from the Utilitarian notion that individual liberty was necessary for economic and government efficiency and advanced the classical defence of individual freedom as a value in itself. It advocated moral and economic freedom of individuals from the state. His basic argument is simple: liberty from political and social tyranny is good because it allows for new and improved ideas to evolve and good because liberty forever puts old ideas to the test. ...read more.


He questions how the conduct of a member of society can be a matter of indifference to the rest of society, "no person is entirely isolated." If he damages his property, he does harm to those who derived support from it, or if he deteriorates his bodily faculties, he becomes a burden on others. So even if his actions do no direct harm to others, he is never the less detrimental by example. As a liberalist, Mill stresses the importance of the individual and freedom. In a liberal sense, freedom means individual freedom. You are at "liberty" to do as you wish, there are no constraints upon how you choose to live your life, you are able, unhindered by tradition or inherited position to achieve your full potential. This idea opposes the characteristic of political tyranny - i.e. the imposition of positive freedom; restriction and barriers. As Isaiah Berlin explained, negative and positive liberty are not merely two distinct kinds of liberty; they can be seen as rival, incompatible interpretations of a single political ideal. There are different ways to define liberty within a society. Isaiah Berlin talks about the two different types. Berlin agrees with the idea of negative liberty and thinks the purpose of government is not to show any visions of life; rather, it is to give them freedom to find out for themselves what the good life is. Berlin supposes that there should be a small government that will protect everyone's individual rights. In a society where negative liberty is prevalent problems begin to arise when you begin to worry about government and not your private life. Negative liberty also allows everyone to have a sphere of rights. You are also able to become what you want and you have more self-control, because there is no pressure to conform to the "norm" of the community in order to keep the society running smoothly. ...read more.


Where Nietzsche on the other hand comes from an elitist standpoint. So, for Nietzsche, the most "human" or natural of societies are those based on aristocratic principles. Thus, societies with clear and very wide social class divides are the most appropriate of humanity. Clearly defined class distinctions that Nietzsche would have liked are the times of the Ancient Greeks, Romans, Feudalism and even aspects of Nazism. - Orders in which richness, excess, cruelty and sensuality were encouraged. This is where a major difference between Nietzsche's philosophy and Mill's becomes apparent. Mill criticises the political control of a tyrant on an individual's freedom, yet Nietzsche claims that these aristocrats are "living for themselves" The aristocrats have asserted their will to power over the people. He justifies this by saying that these societies are natural, because the will to power was exercised properly, by the powerful over the weak. Both have similar views on the topic of religion, arguing that no longer should one set of religious truths be imposed on a population. To move forward, to progress, is to explore the world through the exercise of human reason and critical enquiry. For Nietzsche, we must continually question everything, for there is no absolute truth. We have to find our own truth. We do this by being individual, and not following a herd. For Mill, we are rational thinkers, and bases his theory on this view - that we will come to sensible conclusions. Hence, both philosophers advocate maximising negative liberty as a necessary condition for human flourishing. With the freedom to be individual without the barriers or constraints of tyranny, we as a society and as individuals' progress and new ideas are formed. New values are made, replacing old ones. The Elitist vs. the Liberalist approach is where the two philosophers differ in attitudes. Taking into consideration a rejection of negative liberty, this could be used to pave the way for an alternative account. Hollie Mckechnie ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Philosophy section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Philosophy essays

  1. What are the principles of natural law? Every adult has the right to become ...

    However, there are times when we come across moral dilemmas in which good cannot be done without bringing about an evil consequence. How do you reconcile the bad effect with the desire for moral rightness? In response to this, the doctrine of double effect was devised for solving such moral disputes.

  2. What are the limitations on our personal liberty? Are all of them justified?

    the infliction of actual or more serious bodily harm is an unlawful activity to which consent is no answer.' This presents the problem of subjectivity in the interpretation of law.

  1. Examine the contributions that two of the following may make to a study of ...

    The best supporter of religious language being symbolic is protestant theologian called Tillich his argument was basic and that all religious language was symbolic and can not be taken as literal assertions about the world. Religious words, actions, objects and events can be interpreted symbolically.

  2. Compare, contrast and evaluate Plato and Mill on the relationship between individual and society

    This is contrasted to Mill, whose view is that, excluding children, the individual is sovereign over himself, his body and his mind. Interference in an individual's beliefs or actions is wrong. Unless it is known that one is inflicting harm upon another, interference is not justified.

  1. "Liberalism puts too much emphasis on freedom at the expense of other values." Discuss

    a condition created by the system they advocate, which they are completely unable to escape. In this condition, the individual does not have the ability to, for example, choose where and how often they work, choose what to eat, or where they live; they do not have the money or leisure for education - they are imprisoned by economic hardship.

  2. Social Contract

    Indeed, if we are self-interested as Hobbes says then surely when the time came, we would act in a self-interest way? This view can be illustrated by Ian McEwan's 'Enduring Love'; there is a hot air balloon and in the basket lays a child - there is a sudden gust and the balloon starts it flight.

  1. Philosophy - analysis of Nietzsche, Sartre and Tolstoy

    The mover would be the power that created the first elements and condition that allowed for a single celled organism to develop. QUESTION 22: What does Sartre mean when he says that, in our case, ?existence precedes essence?, and what do the consequences he draw from this fact (forlorness, aguish, despair)

  2. What makes a person valuable?

    This also contributes to consciousness defining a person as we are rationally making decisions on a situation, not just for our own benefit, but also at the fact that it should benefit others. Animals however have a survival instinct where they are all for themselves, they battle each other for food and shelter in order to survive.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work