"On Liberty and Utilitarianism"

John Stuart Mill, in this book, says: “In this age, the mere example of nonconformity, the mere refusal to bend the knee to custom, is itself a service. Precisely because the tyranny of opinion is such as to make eccentricity a reproach, it is desirable, in order to break through that tyranny, that people should be eccentric.”

I used to totally agree with this. But now I’m thinking, what does it mean to be eccentric, and is that something that you can just decide to be?

Many people would say that anyone who bucks the “cultural elite” is an eccentric. So someone like Sarah Palin, who does not follow the “custom” of being intellectually curious and aware of current affairs, is she eccentric?

Or is Mill talking about the stereotypical “mad scientist” eccentric, like an Einstein?

Furthermore, does it matter? And is it even relevant today? More later…

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