Challenging a modern culture of skepticism, this book recovers the core conviction of Victorian liberal theory that human beings, with the help of the state, can achieve an objective moral perfection. Exposing century-long interpretive habits in nineteenth-century studies and political theory that still blind us to the merits of both perfectionism and statism, the book portrays Victorian liberals like John Stuart Mill, Matthew Arnold, and the American Transcendentalists as comprising a forgotten episode in the history of liberalism of vital importance today

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