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Three Essays on Religion: Nature, the Utility of Religion, Theism
Published between 1850 and 1870, these essays by English social and political philosopher John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) offers his most sustained analysis of religious belief. Though not prepared to abandon the idea of an overall design in nature, Mill nonetheless argues that its violence and capriciousness mitigate against moral ends in nature's workings. Moreover, any des ...more
Paperback, 257 pages
Published May 1st 1998 by Prometheus Books
(first published 1874)
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One of the most challenging books I've read on the subject; not as immediately accessible as was his book, On Liberty. Mills did not treat this subject lightly, but gave considerable thought to his nuanced conclusions. You might not agree with his opinions, but you will know you have been treated to the musings of a first rate mind. Highly recommended.
John Stuart Mill, British philosopher, political economist, civil servant and Member of Parliament, was an influential liberal thinker of the 19th century. He was an exponent of utilitarianism, an ethical theory developed by Jeremy Bentham, although his conception of it was very different from Bentham's.More about John Stuart Mill...
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“Supposing it true that contrary to appearances these horrors when perpetrated by Nature, promote good ends, still as no one believes that good ends would be promoted by our following the example, the course of Nature cannot be a proper model for us to imitate. Either it is right that we should kill because nature kills ; torture because nature tortures ; ruin and devastate because nature does the like; or we ought not to consider at all what nature does, but what it is good to do. If there is such a thing as a reductio ad absurdum, this surely amounts to one. If it is a sufficient reason for doing one thing, that nature does it, why not another thing? If not all things, why anything?”
“If we believed that those agencies were appointed by a benevolent Providence as the means of accomplishing wise purposes which could not be compassed if they did not exist, then everything done by mankind which tends to chain up these natural agencies or to restrict their mischievous operation, from draining a pestilential marsh down to curing the toothache, or putting up an umbrella, ought to be accounted impious ; which assuredly nobody does account them, notwithstanding an undercurrent of sentiment setting in that direction which is occasionally perceptible.”More quotes…