Influence of More's Utopia Rightly or Wrongly Term Paper

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Thomas More's "Utopia": Transcending the limits of humanity towards the path of increased social progress and change

The age of discovery that had prevailed among Western societies in the 16th and 17th centuries provided opportunity for the Western world to explore and identify new territories that had been initially unknown to the civilization. In the midst of this dominant social movement, Thomas More had created his controversial discourse, "Utopia," in 1516. This discourse included More's contemplative thoughts on what an ideal or perfect society would be like, a place where ultimate satisfaction would be achieved by humanity. Just as European explorers desired to accumulate greater wealth and expand their territories by exploring new lands in the Pacific and African regions, More had engaged himself with exploration by creating in his mind a venue wherein human wants and needs are satisfied and devoid of the problems and complexities in life that society had been experiencing despite the success of the voyages and explorations to Western civilization.

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This paper explores More's propositions in "Utopia," identifying the characteristics that he considered essential in order to obtain his vision of an ideal society. Further into the analysis, this paper also delves into the application and effect of More's Utopian society to the state of humanity at present. Given these analyses, the researcher posits that More's Utopia allowed humanity to realize its potential to achieve perfection, which in turn, motivated humanity to develop into a better, dynamic, and developing society that humans enjoy and live comfortably now. Utopia made humanity transcend the limits and boundaries of life and the world that people live in, creating a purpose in life, which is to attain that state of perfection, a pursuit that seems infinite and impossible, but nonetheless instrumental in moving history and civilization forward.

Term Paper on Influence of More's Utopia Rightly or Wrongly Assignment

More, in providing an accurate description of the fictional Utopian society, had centered his discussion on the issue of achieving satisfaction and contentment in life, which would only become possible and extant if people no longer crave for things and activities more than what actually and essentially want and need in life. The creation of Utopia was produced due to the writer's contemplation of what are the conditions that make humanity live in fear, chaos, and disorder? Probing into this problem, he countered in his discourse how crimes and chaos, such as thievery, prevail because this way of punishing thieves was neither just in itself nor good for the public...no punishment how sever soever being able to restrain those from robbing who can find out no other way of livelihood. There are dreadful punishments enacted against thieves, but it were much better to make such good provisions by which every man might be out in a method how to live, and so be preserved from the fatal necessity of stealing and dying for it.

More's proposal includes a careful analysis of the conditions of life as most people experience them. This reality explicated in "Utopia" gave inspiration to the formulation of a concept of a society wherein there is no scarcity nor abundance, but contentment and satisfaction in life. If only humanity would have a stable means of living, said More, would society achieve the state of Utopia. That is, Utopia is the state wherein every member of the society has a means of living, order and peace is preserved, and discontentment is absent.

What makes the concept of Utopia new and controversial during More's time is not so much about its nature of perfection, but rather, the introduction of the idea that humanity can go beyond its present state towards the establishment where social, intellectual, and cultural progress are achieved. Furthermore, the fact that progress and development can be achieved due to human society alone and not due to a metaphysical presence had introduced people to a new form of free or liberal thinking, where humanity is the sole determinant that motivated all civilizations that occurred throughout human history.

Delving into his discourse on the nature of Utopian society, it became evident that More's Utopia was actually a socio-economically developed society -- that is, progress in social and economic activities of humanity were factors that made it perfect or ideal.

But among the Utopians all things are so regulated that men very seldom build upon a new piece of ground; and are not only very quick in repairing their houses, but show their foresight in preventing their decay: so that their buildings are preserved very long, with but little labor, and thus the builders to whom that care belongs are often without employment, except the hewing of timber and the squaring of stones, that the materials may be in readiness for raising a building very suddenly when there is any occasion for it.

The path towards perfection or achieving Utopia is determined through an economically- sufficient society. Utopian state was equated to and synonymous to the idea that there is neither scarcity nor abundance, there are no unequal distribution of the needs of people in life. Despite the existence of an organized political order and encouragement of an educated mass, More attributed Utopia's success to its economic efficiency and sustainability more than the precedent factors enumerated.

Indeed, "Utopia" laid bare the kind of society that humanity and future civilization could turn into. True enough, More's discourse seemed a prophecy that came true, especially with the emergence of the Industrial revolution in 19th century and the attainment of human civilization towards modernism at the dawn of 20th century. Over the years, the writer's Utopian vision had been credited for the improvement and development of human society towards modernism. In effect, the concept and nature of Utopia had dominated the new societies that emerged as civilization developed and shifted from becoming an agricultural to capitalist economic societies.

Despite the credit given to More and the concept of Utopia, criticisms against the achievement of an ideal society had countered that far from being beneficial, Utopia had only furthered humanity's discontent with life. As Preble (2003) explicated, "[h]ow will we know when we have won, when we can return to our happy cocoon, safe from external threats, and therefore content to demobilize our armies... " This thought was expressed in the context of the relevance of the concept of Utopia in the present state of society. What Preble's research brought into fore was the fact that the Utopian concept is a vague idea. How can human society indeed determine the point where we have achieved perfection, that we have already reached the ultimate end of societal development? Because More's description of a Utopian social life had already been experienced, though not in entirety, of the present society, Utopia is now considered an obsolete idea, a proposition expressed during the early stages of human civilization which had been prophetic in that it paralleled with the occurrence of civilization's path towards modernization.

However, there were also discourses that argued that the Utopian concept is not obsolete. This is because though Utopia is considered a too-idealistic society, human society has, through More's philosophy, been able to transcend the meaning of Utopia. That is, Utopia is a concept that does not exclusively translate to a perfect order in the society, but rather, a state of mind where the individual knows that s/he can go beyond the limits that society had put upon the individual. Utopia is actually a philosophy that humanity subsists to in their pursuit of creating meaning and purpose in life. Thus, it is not obsolete, but rather, has taken on a different form, and continues to draw inspiration and hope for humanity. Utopia is a symbol of the inevitable progress of humanity towards further development, towards engaging with and boldly facing the unknown future.

This belief is reiterated in Shostak's (2000) analysis of the modern life,… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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