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Mill, John Stuart. On Liberty. London: Longman, Roberts & Green, 1869; Bartleby.com, 1999. www.bartleby.com/130/
“We have, as human beings, a storytelling problem. We're a bit too quick to come up with explanations for things we don't really have an explanation for.”
“It is those who are successful, in other words, who are most likely to be given the kinds of special opportunities that lead to further success. It’s the rich who get the biggest tax breaks. It’s the best students who get the best teaching and most attention. And it’s the biggest nine- and ten-year-olds who get the most coaching and practice. Success is the result of what sociologists like to call “accumulative advantage.”
“Once a musician has enough ability to get into a top music school, the thing that distinguishes one performer from another is how hard he or she works. That's it.
“Superstar lawyers and math whizzes and software entrepreneurs appear at first blush to lie outside ordinary experience. But they don't. They are products of history and community, of opportunity and legacy. Their success is not exceptional or mysterious. It is grounded in a web of advantages and inheritances, some deserved, some not, some earned, some just plain lucky - but all critical to making them who they are. The outlier, in the end, is not an outlier at all.”
“To build a better world we need to replace the patchwork of lucky breaks and arbitrary advantages today that determine success--the fortunate birth dates and the happy accidents of history--with a society that provides opportunities for all.”
“Do you see the consequences of the way we have chosen to think about success? Because we so profoundly personalize success, we miss opportunities to lift others onto the top rung...We are too much in awe of those who succeed and far too dismissive of those who fail. And most of all, we become much too passive. We overlook just how large a role we all play—and by “we” I mean society—in determining who makes it and who doesn’t.”
10 November 2012 The Few and the Most
In John Stuart Mill’s essay, “Of the Liberty of Thought and Discussion”, Mill asserts the existence of dissent from the majority as essential to the path of truth.
In order for the truth and knowledge to surface, people must hold erroneous opinions so we may learn from them. The arduous pursuit of the truth within opinions requires that people constantly exercise their argument ability. Mill claims that there are 3 different types of opinions: wholly right, partially true, wholly false. An opinion of the majority loses its meaning if it cannot be defended and proved. The freedom of opinion dissent serves as a means of finding the truth because a certain amount of skepticism is needed in order to question the arguments of both majority and minority opinion. Mill states that all opinions must be viewed with some uncertainty and the opinion of the minority no matter how small should not be suppressed: “Such prejudice, or oversight, when it [i.e. false belief] occurs, is altogether an evil; but it is one from which we cannot hope to be always exempt, and must be regarded as the price paid for an inestimable good” (Bartleby). The fallibility of the majority is exemplified by looking at past history.