J.S. Mill and Peter Berger Analysis.

Essay by joannacaldasUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, November 2005

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Philosophers can be descriptive, prescriptive or both. Some focus on how we live, while others delve into how we ought to live. Philosophers often achieve this in their work by critically analyzing the relationship the individual has with its government and society at large. It is in this tradition that Peter Berger and John Stuart Mill compose their works of literary genius. While Berger's philosophical account focuses on what actually is the case with respect to the relationship forged between the individual and the society that person inhabits, Mill suggests ways in which society can somehow be transformed into what should be. For Berger he suggests ideas including, but not limited to alteration, opinion and discourse to explain the extent to which the individual is controlled and manipulated by society with his notion of 'ekstasis' as being the only way out. The work of Mill then becomes fundamental to understanding the ways in which to liberate oneself from an oppressive society by way of promoting his harm principle, freedom of opinion and speech, and protection from the majority if one is indeed able to step back and observe the mechanism of society as Berger suggests.

This essay seeks to illuminate the ways in which society controls Berger's individual, while elucidating the ways in which Mill's free agent can free himself from these shackles.

Common amongst society is not necessarily our ethics and the way in which we judge, but rather it is the way in which some core and fundamental conventions are taken for granted. For instance, many individuals of society may agree that the conviction of the innocent is wrong, but may have never critically reflected on the reasons that might be given as to why it is in fact wrong. These beliefs and moral convictions did not come...