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A Body of Thought: The Form of Liberal Individualism

A Body of Thought: The Form of Liberal Individualism

(p.63) Chapter Two A Body of Thought: The Form of Liberal Individualism
Living Liberalism
Elaine Hadley
University of Chicago Press

This chapter explores the form liberal individualism took. The liberal individual presumed to emerge from the myriad procedures of Victorian liberalization is a complicated ideological, theoretical, and historical construct, more often referenced in Victorian literary criticism than intensively examined. The chapter states that this subject is almost always an amalgam of the characteristics and characteristic practices most consistently iterated in canonical texts of classical liberalism. The chapter also looks at the revisions made to those premises in contemporary Victorian political and social theory, and the modern reformulations of that genealogy. In the Victorian period, a partial commitment to gradual democratization and an expansion of conceptions of proprietorship encouraged liberal thinkers, such as John Stuart Mill and Matthew Arnold, to emphasize afresh a pedagogy of self-development that would, in David Lloyd and Paul Thomas's term, “educe” the citizen, who would only then be prepared for the privileges and responsibilities of liberal citizenship.

Keywords:   liberal individualism, Victorian period, liberalization, social theory, John Stuart Mill, Matthew Arnold, liberal citizenship

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