IDEAL EMPIRES AND REPUBLICS: Rousseau’s Social Contract, More’s Utopia, Bacon’s New Atlantis, Campanella’s City of the Sun [NOOK Book]

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INTRODUCTION

THE term Utopia, as generally used, refers to those ideal states which are impossible of realization, both because they are peopled by ideal human beings uninfluenced by personal jealousies or individual passions, and because they are based, with but little regard for the complexities and varieties of real society, upon ...
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IDEAL EMPIRES AND REPUBLICS: Rousseau’s Social Contract, More’s Utopia, Bacon’s New Atlantis, Campanella’s City of the Sun

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Overview

An excerpt from the beginning of the:

INTRODUCTION

THE term Utopia, as generally used, refers to those ideal states which are impossible of realization, both because they are peopled by ideal human beings uninfluenced by personal jealousies or individual passions, and because they are based, with but little regard for the complexities and varieties of real society, upon what the writer thinks ought to be, rather than upon the collective experience of mankind. More broadly speaking, however, the term need not be confined to these “fantastic pictures of impossible societies,” or “romantic accounts of fictitious states,” as they have been called, but may be applied to any social, intellectual, or political scheme which is impracticable at the time when it is conceived and presented. Thus enlarged, the field may be made to include schemes as diverse as More’s Utopia, Campanella’s City of the Sun, Cabet’s Icarie, and Morris’s News from Nowhere, Rousseau’s society of the Social Contract; and modern socialistic and communistic organizations, such as the Co-operative Commonwealth of Lawrence Grönlund, popularized by Bellamy in Looking Backward, and Flürcheim’s Money Island.

Utopias have generally made their appearance during periods of great social and political unrest, and it is, therefore, no accident that after Plato’s Republic, written during dark days in the history of Athens, all Utopias should have fallen in the period from the beginning of the sixteenth century to the present time. The Middle Ages, with their fixed institutions, their blind faith, and their acceptance of authority were not a suitable seed-ground for the growth of Utopian schemes Any ideals that were conceived were of a religious character, based upon conceptions of the past and hopes of the future: those of the past combined the pagan notion of a golden age with the Christian’s concept of an age of innocence, giving rise to the doctrine that man had fallen from a perfect life whose simple rules were based on natural law; those of the future looked forward to the re-establishment of Christ’s kingdom on earth. Such doctrines were characteristic of a period in which there existed no true idea of human progress.

But in the period following the Middle Ages, when mediæval institutions were breaking down and men were awakening to the fact that governments had become corrupt and tyrannical, and social relations unjust and immoral, it was natural that they should find comfort and satisfaction in casting into romantic or ideal form their conception of what society ought to be. Excellent examples of such Utopias are to be found among the works of sixteenth century writers, who prompted by the new spirit of inquiry constructed ideal conditions that should eliminate the evils of their age. The earliest, More’s Utopia (1516), presents the lofty ideals of the Oxford reformers, and stands as the greatest literary effort of the time; Vives, a versatile Catholic humanist, in 1531 erected in his De Corruptis Artibus and De Tradendis Discipliniis an ideal academy, a pedagogical Utopia, founded on the highest educational, scientific, and moral considerations;* Doni in I Mundi celesti, terrestri, et infernali (1552-53) satirized in Utopian form the political and social vices of Italy; and a little later, in 1605, under the pseudonym, Mercurius Britannicus, Joseph Hall, made Bishop of Norwich in 1641, published a moral satire, Mundus Alter et Idem, in tone rather Rabelaisian than ideal.

As the seventeenth century advanced, the spirit of free inquiry grew bolder, overthrowing the philosophy of Aristotle, and leading men to study the operations of nature in order to discover the fundamental principles that underlay the constitution of the universe. Three writers, in harmony with the spirit of the age, conceived philosophical and intellectual Utopias, in which by means of the new methods of scientific experimentation the social and intellectual order was to be remodeled. Campanella, a Dominican monk of Calabria, began in 1602 his Civitas Solis, which he published in 1623; Bacon in the Novus Atlantis, written before 1617 and published in 1627, exhibited a state of which the most striking feature was a college “instituted for the interpreting of nature and the production of great and marvelous works for the benefit of man;” and Comenius, after issuing his Conatuum Pansophicorum Dilucidatio in 1639, went to England to form a “Universal College” for physical research on the lines suggested by Bacon in the New Atlantis.* But in the turmoil of the Civil War the Pansophia of Comenius was lost, and hopes of a Universal College soon vanished.

During the next hundred years political questions supplanted philosophical. Harrington’s Oceana dedicated to Cromwell in 1656...
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Product Details

  • BN ID: 2940015524543
  • Publisher: OGB
  • Publication date: 9/29/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 2 MB

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