In a discussion format, we’ll examine ON LIBERTY, the seminal work by John Stuart Mills analyzing the relative (and often competing) rights of individuals and rights of the community. This work has been described as not only “the most widely read piece of political thought written in the 19th century” but as “the one most relevant to us today.”  In this work, Mill asks and tries to answer, what are the rights of individuals and what are the rights of the community? In our own day these questions continue to arise: whether about legalizing drugs, banning pornography, controlling media outlets, or challenging the authority of governing officials and institutions. What could be more relevant? We’ll examine his work in a discussion format, analyzing what we take as the strengths and weaknesses of his position, allowing for differences of opinion concerning these matters.

Feedback from past courses taught by Forest:

“Excellent. Lots of interaction. Forest is such a great instructor. His candid comments are so helpful and immediately useful. I’ll be back!!”

“Forest had a gentle and professional guiding hand leading our group.”

“Forest was wonderful at navigating and leader the group. Enjoyed the interaction with all of the other participants and really appreciated the opportunity to receive feedback on my writing and hearing others’ writings as well. Overall a great experience.”

“Forest Hansen is one of the most pleasant course leaders…we should have him again and again as long as he is willing to lead courses!!!”

“When it comes to teaching, Forest Hansen is the Platonic Ideal!”

Recording Now Available.


Forest Hansen, Ph.D.

Forest earned a BA in English at Harvard, an MA in English at the University of Wisconsin, and a Ph.D. in Philosophy at Johns Hopkins, and took graduate courses in Counseling Psychology at Northwestern University. For 35 years he taught a variety of courses in English and philosophy, as well as courses in Greek Civilization, Classics in Western Thought, and required MA interdisciplinary courses on various subjects, including the humanities, natural science, and social science. He co-created and directed a college travel program studying Ancient Greek and Byzantine Civilizations. After retirement, he and his wife lived for 10 years in England, where Forest founded the first Great Books discussion group in that country and served as Parish Footpath Officer and secretary of the Alvrchurch Village Society. He and his wife moved to Easton in 2003. A familiar face at Chesapeake Forum, Forest has led courses on Dialogues of Plato, Mind/Brain, and Memoir Writing.

Share this course
Related Courses You Might Enjoy
memoirs (1)

Forest Hansen

Interactive memoir writing course where your 1-2 page writing assignments are shared to the others in the class for encouragement and suggestions.
american 2

Charles Yonkers, J.D.

The question “What is an American?” began in 1782 and persists today. This course uses Hector de Crevecoeur, Mark Twain, and modern journalist George Packer’s “The Four Americans” essay (2021) to animate a discussion of the continuing puzzlement.

Forest Hansen, Ph.D.

COURSE IS NOW OVER. THE RECORDING IS STILL AVAILABLE. Examine selections from one of Plato’s most famous dialogues as Socrates turns to a philosophical exploration of the nature of beauty and its role in the good life.

Margaret Andersen, Ph.D.

What does ‘systemic racism’ really mean? Is there a difference between ‘equality’ and ‘equity’? Join our program presenters and hear a panel of Talbot County community leaders discuss what’s happening in the County.