John Stuart Mill on Eccentricity

I’ve always felt that the following utterance, in praise of eccentricity, is slightly problematic. What I believe it is not, and could easily be mistaken for, is a get-out-of-jail-free card for anyone who imagines that self-proclaiming buffoonery is a badge of individuality, originality, healthy dissent so on. Discuss. ☺️

In this age, the mere example of non-conformity, the mere refusal to bend the knee to custom, is itself a service. Precisely because the tyranny of opinion is such as to make eccentricity a reproach, it is desirable, in order to break through that tyranny, that people should be eccentric. Eccentricity has always abounded when and where strength of character has abounded; and the amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigour, and moral courage which it contained. That so few now dare to be eccentric, marks the chief danger of the time.

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