Essay about The Utopian Impulse

Essay about The Utopian Impulse

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To explore the concepts of Utopian theory, both political and social, one must first engender a concrete definition of what Utopia means. Sir Thomas More, the original creator of the term Utopia, signifies it as “no place”. However, More’s clever play on words seems ultimately to suggest that ”no place” is just no place right now. That is to say that Utopia is “an ideal place that does not exist in reality” yet (Murfin and Ray 529).
The theoretical and literary genres of Utopianism which came in the wake of More’s Utopia seek to promote a “vision of ‘the good life’”, as Barbara Goodwin and Keith Taylor explain in their collaborative work, The Politics of Utopia. This “good life” is often a vision which “transcends normal idealism” and “is inevitably at variance with the imperfections of existing society” (Goodwin and Taylor 4). Consequently Utopianism cannot be defined as a single type of work or theory but a collection of critiques of “social-political reality” (Goodwin and Taylor 5) as well as prescriptions social and political, for the attainment of a better place.
Utopianism has surfaced throughout history in a variety of forms as it shapes itself to suit the needs of socio-political climates. A survey of these historical periods in Utopianism will examined the origins of the Utopian impulse in theory as well as in practice. This examination will ultimately lead to an exploration of the modern Utopian impulse, which due to advances in technology, shits in intellectual production and a uniquely 21st century socio-political reality differs significantly in context and form from the works in its lineage.

An epistemological survey of Utopian texts (i.e. texts which describe “an ideal place that does not exist in reality...


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...izens expect to be provided for they must be the ones producing the products they require.
In Utopias, as in the Garden, one must give as much of oneself as possible to the society so that there is plenty to distribute to all members. The fall and the subsequent banishment from the perfect existence within the Garden serves as an example of how corruption has removed humanity from its golden age, or the “original period of human felicity, [the] idyllic state of ease, harmony, peace, and plenty” (Murfin and Ray 205). Humanity, having been educated in the perfection of the past, and the possibilities that morality, tolerance, and communitarianism can offer us for future betterment, continues to seek redemption to this lost age. Utopian philosophy and literature has served as the tool with which humanity can explore the possibilities of these preferable existences.

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