Laura Chappell Colloquium 390U



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Laura Chappell
Colloquium 390U
Thomas More Utopia Response

The idea of utopia is often associated with the words ideal, peace, harmony, perfection, and the list goes on. However, even the most perfect place on Earth you can imagine is going to have its blind spots. These down falls stem from the fact that no society can please every citizen who inhabits it, that is, every person’s idea of perfection varies. Although it does have its upsides, More’s utopia undoubtedly has blind spots.

More’s Utopia encompasses a problem that many other representations of utopia also have; the loss of individualism. The goal of taking away individualism in society was to equal out the playing field for all of its citizens. By eliminating difference among individuals, More’s utopia also eliminates poverty, greed, jealousy, and other negative attributes that currently exist in society due to the freedom of individuality. On the surface this seems like a smart idea, but by taking away individualism, More’s utopia also suppresses creativity, imagination, and ingenuity. These aspects serve as main function of society. Without them, people rarely ever reach their full potential, and how can that be best for society?

Similar to this loss of individualism, is the complete loss of private property. In More’s utopia, no citizen has personal owner ship of anything, everything is simply commonwealth. This is also meant to level the playing field among all citizens. By eliminating ownership of private property, More’s utopia is simply restricting the growth of the society. With no private property comes no need for money within the society. Eliminating the use of money stifles the need for citizens to excel because they have no motivation for going above and beyond. The reward of money plays a very important role in society. It provides an incentive to do well, and fosters humans’ drive to accomplish and achieve. More tries to make this seem like it is beneficial to society, but in reality it is not.

In addition to this, other dark sides to More’s Utopia lie within the fundamentals of his imagined society. In More’s utopia, there still exists disease, mental illness, unfavorable weather, and crime. If utopia is supposed to be a perfect society, then this is simply contradicting. Although More does propose beneficial ideas in which to deal with these ailments in society, he does not fully eliminate them, and therefore the bad effects that they cause still exist in More’s utopia.

Perhaps the largest and most serious problems in More’s Utopia are that it does not allow for advancements of any kind, population growth, or any form of change in general. More’s utopia is intentionally ignorant to any technological advances in the outside world, and, as a result, the society is stuck living in the same state for eternity. This is simply unrealistic, because no society can sustain while remaining stagnant. If More’s utopia existed in the real world, it would never survive because it would be impossible to not react to the advancements in other areas of the world without failing as a society. More’s solution to this problem is making the island on which More’s utopia exists completely isolated, which is a problem in of itself.

All of these aspects of More’s utopia are blind spots that make it unrealistic and unachievable. This is simply why ‘utopia’ means no-place, it cannot exist in the real world without failing. These blind spots within More’s utopia all represent social coercion, and are oppressive as well as restrictive.

Comments

Laura,


You point out a lot drawbacks to Utopia. More’s vision of the good society certainly doesn’t match with your own in a lot of respects, which you explain well. Some of the flaws you point to are indeed blind spots (change, loss of individualism), in that More doesn’t address them or see them as problems. But some of them, he does address, though his explanations wouldn’t correspond to yours. For example, he explains why private property and money are eliminated, and he explains what motivates people to work in Utopia. He actually claims they would more likely fulfill their potential in Utopia than in the outside world. You should probably mention More’s reasons for eliminating private property in order to better explain why you disagree with him.


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