Feinberg’s Copy of On Liberty Now Online


The late Joel Feinberg‘s annotated copy of John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty has been digitally scanned and made publicly available through the Princeton University Digital Library. If you view the book on a touch screen you can flip through it quite naturally with a finger, as you would a book with very cooperative pages.

Princeton philosopher Michael Smith bought the book for a buck from Feinberg himself:

Feinberg’s copy of Mill’s essay came into the possession of Michael Smith when he was a visiting professor at the University of Arizona at Tucson in 2001. Feinberg, a long-time faculty member at Arizona, and his wife, Betty, had decided to move into a smaller home, so he sold off most of his philosophy library to faculty and students for one dollar per book, the proceeds going to the department. Smith saw On Liberty for sale and, assuming it was the copy Feinberg referred to while writing his masterwork The Moral Limits of the Criminal Law, bought it for sentimental reasons without opening it. Feinberg had plainly read and re-read his copy of Mill’s book many times, as it has been annotated using pencils, pens, and highlighters. Smith donated the book to the Princeton University Library in 2015.

It’s interesting to see some of Feinberg’s comments and indications of what he took to be important.

Feinberg Mill On Libert 1

Also—and I mean no disrespect—it is kind of amusing to see how even one of the greats highlighted some pages in their entirety in that undergrad-ruins-a-book way:

Feinberg Mill On Libert 2

The project is terrific, and it got me wondering about this question: if you could see one philosopher’s annotated copy of another philosopher’s work, which philosophers, and which book or article would it be?

 

guest
9 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Fritz
Fritz
5 years ago

Nozick’s copy of *Theory of Justice* would probably be fun.Report

Matt
5 years ago

I don’t know how accessible they are (surely much less than this book is) but a significant percentage of Rawls’s books with annotations and highlighting were bought and donated to Harvard. The collection included a copy of Catherine MacKinnon’s _Towards A Feminist Theory of the State_. I’m not sure if that book had significant annotations or not, but if it did, I would be interested in seeing them. Report

M
M
5 years ago

Remind me to destroy every philosophy book I owned when I was an undergraduate, and a large portion of those I owned as a graduate student, and a goodly portion of the books I came to own after I became a faculty member.Report

Alan White
Alan White
5 years ago

My highlighted grad copy of Process and Reality looks like the second pix above–except with pencil and pen underlining about every third sentence or so, and many with both. I bet my “annotations” add a near double-digit percentage of weight to the book.

Anyone know if Kant had a copy of the Enquiry annotated loudly enough to wake him from his dogmatic slumber? (Semi-seriously–did he?)

Though I understand that Ludwig read Sir Karl with a poker face–which later made him go ga-ga.

Report

Ruth Groff
Ruth Groff
5 years ago

Adorno’s copy of Volume 1 of Capital. Marx’s copy of Aristotle’s Metaphysics, and also John Stuart Mill’s. Jonathan Lowe’s copy of A Realist Theory of Science (Roy Bhaskar). Maybe Iris Murdoch’s copy of the Republic. Anscombe’s copy of Logic, Truth & Language, but also Charles Taylor’s, Alasdair MacIntyre’s and Adorno’s copies of it too.

I like this game.Report

SCM
SCM
5 years ago

John Searle’s copy of anything written by Derrida.Report

David Williams
5 years ago

I went to the British Library some years ago to examine Rousseau’s copy of Plato’s Complete Dialogues. Good stuff there.Report

Rob Tempio
Rob Tempio
5 years ago

The Morgan library in New York has Schopenhauer’s copy of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason with his annotations. Report

Angus Scott
5 years ago

I think that a Trireme of the three English empiricists on each other’s tomes would be a good read. Englishman, and Irishman and a Scotsman etc…Report