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Code of Ethics | National Society of Professional Engineers
Not the least interesting part of his essay is a sketch of the possible strategy whereby the literate and educated elements of the population might guide the masses or create a rival power to them. He believed that an effective civilization is possible only through the capacity of individuals to combine for common ends. Combination, as in trade unions and benefit societies, had already made the workers more powerful. Combination and compromise also could enlarge the influence of the literate middle class, demolish old barriers between all classes, and extend the range of law and justice. English educational institutions were imperfectly organized for their task, and he feared the advent of democracy before the people were sufficiently educated and ready to shoulder their responsibilities. He censured the ancient English universities for failing to make the present rulers grasp what had to be done in reform to avoid the worst features of mass domination. In pursuing narrow sectarian ends, as in the exclusion of Dissenters, the universities were ignoring political realities. They must moreover extend their scope to serve a larger proportion of the population, and at the same time sponsor more through research in the manner of the German universities.
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In the third chapter Mill argues on lines parallel to those in the second. In one he contends for freedom of discussion to discover social truth and in the other for liberty of action to achieve a vital individuality. In some respects this is the most distinctive part of his essay, because the concept of individuality contributes to his liberalism a more original and more contentious element than the older and long-extolled liberty of speech. His great liberal forbears, like Milton and Locke, never attempted to annex so large and uncertain a territory for the free and autonomous self. Mill’s argument adds a dimension to his view of an open society, and reflects his debt to the German, Wilhelm von Humboldt, whose words form the epigraph to this essay. From Humboldt Mill takes the precept that men must direct their efforts to the “individuality of power and development,” including a necessary scope for freedom and variety in human life (261).