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Contents:
  1. Plato on utopia
  2. Academic Tools
  3. The Meaning of Utopia
  4. BBC - Culture - How Utopia shaped the world
  5. An example of a group of people who came to America to establish a Utopian society is

Rationalism in this sense is the doctrine which assumes that all institutions which benefit humanity have in the past and ought in the future to be invented in clear awareness of the desirable effects that they produce … that we have it in our power so to shape our institutions that of all possible sets of results that which we prefer to all others will be realised. Rationalism is thus seen as the imposition of a brainspun system which over-emphasises consistency and the processes of formal logic, on the material world:.

But it also departs from the approved brand of rationality by not being strictly self-interested and calculating:. Clearly, then, in the controversies surrounding utopianism, rationalism is understood to represent a non-empirical way of arguing, a theory-based thought system with inherently authoritarian tendencies, and is condemned for these reasons. The linking of utopianism with authoritarianism needs some explanation at this point. The fiercest critics of utopianism have sought to associate it with the totalitarian way of thinking, whose characteristics are defined as exclusivism and authoritarianism: utopianism is found guilty by association.

Plato on utopia

A careful reading of Popper makes it clear that, while much of his argument is devoted to deploring the political consequences of utopianism, his quarrel with it is epistemological and methodological [8]. A number of complex issues are raised by the criticism of utopianism qua rationalism. First, can it properly be asserted that utopias are purely rational Furthermore, most utopians try to relate their constructs to empirically known existing society because only thus can it gain credibility with their audience.

However, the consequences of such utopian thinking may be rationalist in the sense which critics denigrate. By comparison with a thoroughgoing empiricism which entails no intereference at all in that values or prescriptions cannot be entailed by facts within such an epistemology , utopian analysis of society and social evils has a strongly prescriptive element which would, if enacted, cause people to change their tastes and behaviour.

Such arguments are forcefully presented by Popper. But a convic-. Many utopians convinced of their own rightness nevertheless sought to persuade by reason r,odwin , example Owen, the Saint-Simonians or by presenting utopia as a readable fiction More, Morris, Bellamy et aZ. Reason dominates both the rationalist and the empiricist method; but human beings also have the faculty of fantasy: they can imagine or project that which does not exist.

Empiricism and rationalism are different epistemological standpoints, mutually challengeable, but neither can be said to have a monopoly of reason or rightness. Since current accounts of scientific method acknowledge the interpenetration of theory and fact in empiricism, the rigid methodological distinction which enabled utopians to be branded as rationalists, and hence dismissed, has in part collapsed, bringing, perhaps, a new lease of tolerance for the utopian method.

Another reason for considering utopianism necessarily authoritarian is the stigmatisation of utopians as enemies of free choice. Twentieth-century political theory has reaffirmed the importance of interests, and largely neglected the idea of political truth; pluralists hold that there is a plurality of incompatible political interests which must be reconciled through democratic procedure. Liberals uphold the sanctity of revealed preferences as expressions of rational choice and as manifestations of the freedom which a liberal society strives to foster.

Academic Tools

Even wrong choices presumably embody this virtue, although the paradigmatically free act is also the perfectly rational right act. But the association of choice with rationality and freedom in the liberal-democratic context must be called into question. The myths of rationality and freedom which have been constructed round the act of voting are well known.

In this connection one can also invoke the arguments of Olson concerning the need to induce, oblige or coerce would-be free-riders into contributing their proper shares for the provision of public or collective goods. Therefore, the rational method for devising a utopia is the elaboration of collective rationality as analysed by the utopian. The rational method for realising a collective good, objectively and benignly conceived, such as utopia, must be its imposition irrespective of expressed personal preferences, if necessary by coercion.


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Coercion need not be physical or violent:. Admittedly, a transition to utopia involving such methods would violate Pareto optimality, but this constraint of liberal economic and social theory is inherently inimical to any social change and cannot be accepted as the major criterion for judging any change.


  1. The Importance of Utopian Thinking.
  2. Utopianism.
  3. The Meaning of Utopia;
  4. Is Ours a Post-Utopia World? - The Philosophical Salon?
  5. The Witchs Dream: A Healers Way of Knowledge (Compass).
  6. 16th Century Dreams!
  7. A privileged section of the population in existing society cannot be granted the right to veto utopia for others in perpetuity merely because its own vested interests would be threatened. If such a conviction is authoritarian, then authoritarianism is a justifiable part of the process of inventing and realising utopias. The justification of interventionist or welfare politics is that follective or community rationality is being substituted for the aggregation of subjective, personal interests in important policy areas: this takes place, for example, in the provision of a health service or of motorways paid for by taxes.

    The utopian attempts to create a rationality of the whole community, superseding that of the egocentric individual, to whose partiality liberaldemocratic politics is a constant prey. I would argue that it is the only possible approach to thoroughRoing social change since the dominance of expressed interests and ideology would prevent radical change coming about in a democratic fashion.

    The operation of individual rational choice in a given community could never achieve utopia. My remarks here apply to utopian theorising primarily, since there has been so little utopian practice, and do not apply to utopian communities set up as enclaves in existing societies, since their membership is voluntary and so such problems do not arise. The latter is a precarious value-judgement, the former is based on a view of politics which is contradicted daily by political practice, even in the most laissez-faire of countries.

    The Meaning of Utopia

    Even the champions of utopia cannot deny that the realisation of any utopia would impose unwelcome changes on at least some people, however gently it did so. Critics such as Popper find this so distasteful that they immediately object to utopian theory as a genre. This imperative becomes compelling in the face of threatened scarcities and even the most libertarian of liberals now countenance some such control because refusal would constitute mass suicide.

    Property is the paradigm case, but the formula might apply equally to the right to have a large family and other matters which many would consider to lie in the sphere of private choice. Even where an abundance of material and other goods could be attained, the ultimate limitations of space and human mortality justify some degree of directed allocation.

    Given that the problem is primarily that of scarce resources, it would also be logical to extend the principle of authoritative allocation from distribution to the process of production so that a social contribution could be required from everyone. The formula leaves many problems unsolved, of course:. Such allocative formulae might be imposed, but they need be neither arbitrary nor unjust. Since everyone has dreamed of a better world, it is fair to say that Humanity has a common dream. While no two humans are exactly the same, we are all of one race, the human race, and we all share the experience of life in an essentially identical carbon-based life-form structure.

    BBC - Culture - How Utopia shaped the world

    We all work for continuing survival while in this structure, and hope for a happy, safe, and good life for ourselves and for our loved ones. Therefore, everyone has a common desire for the best life attainable.

    Since each person has their own unique vision of Utopia, the only universally agreeable description of Utopia is, "the ability for each person to live in their own vision of paradise. Since humans consist of both a tangible physical state body and an intangible mental state mind , the way to achieve Utopia is to find technologies and methods that fully satisfy both states of human existence. With the right new knowledge Humanity can solve any problem and achieve any desired result.

    History has shown that anytime humanity wants to learn how to do something, such as land a man on the moon, the answers can be found if money and resources are devoted to the cause. Therefore, we should be devoting more resources toward finding the knowledge that will allow each person to live as they desire. Human DNA has been fully mapped and now it is just a matter of determining what each gene does so that we can manipulate the same to stop illness, increase intelligence, etc.

    Princeton University scientists have already genetically enhanced the intelligence of mice. Aged brains have been restored to youthful vigor in a gene therapy experiment with monkeys. Scientists have recently created a new life form in the laboratory by creating a new genetic pattern of a simple organism. Cloning capabilities are increasing. Computing capabilities are going ballistic, and artificial intelligence seems to be on the horizon.

    With robots, machines, computers, and other technologies beyond our current knowledge such as nanotechnology, we can have unlimited production capabilities. With genetic engineering, chemical manipulation, and future technologies we can enhance the mental state of existence.

    An example of a group of people who came to America to establish a Utopian society is

    In sum, with the right new knowledge, humanity can have infinite provision for all tangible and intangible needs and wants for existence, and thereby have Utopia. If humanity recognized this reality, and devoted more resources toward knowledge, we could accelerate the pace at which we reach a better world. The three basic ways of interacting with knowledge, are: 1 dissemination from accessing stored information, through teaching, or from other methods of communication; 2 use through actions based on awareness of knowledge; and 3 acquisition of new knowledge from research, through experience, or from other avenues of discovery.

    Humanity has achieved proficient methods for dissemination of knowledge, and simply needs to better utilize the same in order to facilitate the use of knowledge.