Reviews Mill and France
All this implies that … the so-called classical liberals, who nowadays call themselves neo-liberals or libertarians, claim Mill’s ideas and contend they follow in his footsteps. The Dutch historian Cor Hermans modifies this image thoroughly in his highly readable book Een Engelsman in Frankrijk …. In it he doesn’t deny that the famous philosopher played an important role in the history of European liberalism, but he demonstrates … that [Mill] was also influenced, and substantially so, by the Romantic Movement, socialism, and positivism.
Dirk Verhofstadt, 17 October, 2008, www.liberales.be
His main source of inspiration Mill found with Coleridge and Carlyle, Saint-Simon, Tocqueville and Comte. In his book Cor Hermans presents us with a detailed study of all these different spheres of influence. He succeeds in unearthing their connections, while writing expressively and well documented, and in showing how they were brought together in Mill’s writings in a harmonious way to form a masterly whole. Also very interesting is how Mr Hermans places these philosophical and sociological views in their historical context… Mr Hermans brings to life a Mill who radically engaged in the improvement of the fortune of both individual and society …
Willy Deckers, De Leeswolf, nr. 8, 2008
Cor Hermans discovered in Mill first of all the passionate rationalist, with an open eye for the moral and institutional shortcomings of democracy. His quest for ‘liberation through reason’ still is, and very much so, a topical subject … It will take you some long evenings to make yourself familiar with the Mill that Mr Hermans outlined. But it will be a rewarding experience. A refreshing view on Mill and an interestingly written history of ideas of the nineteenth century, including the striking notion that a merciless striving for personal gain is not everything, as we know by now, having suffered the banking crisis of overextended loans.
Willem Breedveld, Trouw, 31 October, 2008
Mr Hermans not only demonstrates that utilitarianism is much more interesting and wide ranging than is commonly assumed, he also shows that it is not justified to criticise Mill for being an ‘unsystematic’ thinker. (…) The Mill that Mr Hermans presents in his erudite and excellently written book made great demands on himself, such as ordinary mortals could never satisfy; however, he also was a very prolific and stimulating philosopher, who but little resembled the wooden Victorian schoolmaster looking down on us in photographs and paintings.
Rob Hartmans, De Groene Amsterdammer, 13 June, 2008