On Liberty Questions and Answers
by John Stuart Mill

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Explain the following lines from On Liberty by John Stuart Mill.   "He who lets the world, or his own portion of it, choose his plan of life for him, has no need of any other faculty than the ape-like one of imitation. He who chooses his plan for himself, employs all his faculties. He must use observation to see, discrimination to decide, and when he has firmness and self-control, to bold to his deliberate decision."  

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Mill is simply saying that human beings, in the fullest sense of the term, are those who choose their own path in life. They think for themselves; they choose what they want to do, what they want to be. In doing so they use every human faculty, exercising that unique capacity for liberty that is the sole preserve of the human animal. Once someone has made their decision as to what they're going to do in life, they need to be conscientious in making sure that they do what they're supposed to, resolutely sticking to their initial plan through firmness and self-control.

Other people, however, simply go with the flow, drifting through life on a sea of other people's ideas and opinions. Sometimes it's all too easy just to go along with what everyone else does, either out of habit or through a misguided veneration for tradition. We often do things in life, not because we've chosen to do them, but because we're expected to, forced to live out a certain role determined by accidental factors...

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