Social Utopias: Will Saada Fall 2015

October 18, 2015

Response Paper 5

Filed under: Portfolio — William Saada @ 3:30 pm

 

By reading the source, Two Swords; Heresy and Just War, in which Thomas Moore defends the use of violence to fight against Heresy, we can better understand religion in Utopia.  First we gain a better understanding of the time period in which violence caused by relgion was very prevalent.  While Hythloday is discussing religion in Utopia he writes, “It is one of their oldest policies that no one should come to any harm because of their religion” (Moore 118).  In Utopia if someone hurts another citizen because of religion he will likely be banished.  The source gives us a background of the time period which helps us understand the importance of this law.  Moore lived in a time where many people were harmed and even killed because of their religion.  In the article heretics have resorted to violence against Christians and Moore believes they must be punished with violence.  But in Utopia he sees this cycle of violence and makes sure that can not occur in a just society.  In Utopia the punishments for fighting over religion seem very harsh but it makes sense based on the religious conflict at the time.

In Utopia the idea comes up that the the less holy religions would be “choked like grain” by worse people.  When war and religion meet it is likely that the worse religions come out on top.  Thus, the religions that are not as virtuous will come out on top.  Conversely, in a society like Utopia where people can believe whatever they like and are not pressured to follow any religion the best and holiest religion will thrive.  It seems contradictory that he is justifying the use of violence but in utopia any sort of violence relating to religion is severely punished.  However, his argument is that the use of violence is necessary in the current society.  If they just accept the violence of heretics eventually Christianity will suffer.  Because the heretics are using violence then it is okay for them to use violence as well.  In an ideal society, like Utopia, there would be no initial violence.  The utopians made sure that no one could fight over religion foreseeing the effect it would have on religion; the worse ones would win out.  To counter this in Moore’s time he believed they must use violence as well to contain the heretics.  This law is vital to a utopian society to ensure that religion does not result in death and controversy like it had been during the 16th century.

 

Response Paper 4

Filed under: Portfolio — William Saada @ 3:28 pm

In his article about Thomas Moore’s Utopia, Brendan Bradshaw argues that Utopia was not created as they only solution for the problems recounted in book I, however, he offers the best possible solution for those problems, essentially something for society to strive toward.  In addition, he refutes Hexler’s claim that Utopia is supposed to represent a Christian commonwealth, therefore, challenging the relationship between morality and religion in Christianity.

In the beginning of the article Bradshaw explains the success and the failure of those who have attempted to find Moore’s intentions in writing Utopia: what was successful and what he disagrees with.  The main argument he focuses on is Hexler’s claim that Utopia is a Christian commonwealth.  Bradshaw links Moore to Erasmus, a Christian humanist and colleague of Moore, who argues that even the most virtuous pagans still need the revelation of Christ.  Hexler, however, sees the Utopians as true Christians despite never truly becoming Christian.  Virtue and reason are enough for one to be a “true Christian.”   He is right to argue that Utopia must be related to Christian humanists in the 16th century but not to condemn Christian practices as useless.  He does, however, stress the importance morality plays alongside religion.  Bradshaw writes, “Just as morality is a precondition of spirituality in practice of religion, so it is a precondition of revelation in the understanding of it” (Bradshaw).  Therefore, morality and revelation are both necessary to become a true Christian.  Without each other they become useless.  Erasmus claims that one must have knowledge and prayer.  Without knowledge and virtue prayer is useless.  But without prayer one can not connect with God and is not truly Christian.  The Utopians, who have achieved virtue and knowledge through reason, are able to understand and truly accept Christ.  Ultimately, Moore did not intend to completely challenge the need for revelation, instead he viewed morality as a way to better accept and understand the teachings of God.

Skinner and Falon, rightfully argue that utopia should be considered “No Place”, however, they fail to recognize it as an ideal and instead see it as an idyll.  An idyll would refer to the commonwealth of utopia a happy, perfect place that can only be imagined and not brought to life.  Bradshaw, however, argues that it is an ideal solution to the problems society faced.  He asserts on the purpose of book II, “Book II, therefore, did not represent ‘the only possible solution… for the evils depicted in book I’. It represented the best possible solution for them. (Bradshaw 20).  Essentially, he argues that Book II is the intended as the best possible solution to rid the problems discussed in book I and although Moore knows Utopia could not exist, society can use its ideas and institutions to better themselves.  He uses evidence from the societies described in the first book such as the Macerians: who placed a limit on the about of coin the king may have in his possession so the king will not be greedy.  Raphael notes that this society is not perfect like Utopia, but it is close.  This reform is something that could have been done in Europe at the time and may have improved its social conditions.  Therefore, by striving to be like Utopia, society can find ways to improve its social structure.  The final argument stems from the relationship between Moore’s character, the political side, and Hytholoday, the moral side.  In conclusion to his work, Bradshaw claims on the relationship between moral and practical thought.  Both ways of thinking are important to society.  He is arguing that the two sides, represented by Moore and Hytholoday, must work together to make improvements.  Both arguments are valid and society must be able to use logic and morals cohesively to adapt and change for the betterment of the society, just like the Utopians.

I have neither received nor given unauthorized assistance in the completion of this work.

 

Bibliography

 

  1. Bradshaw, Brendan. “More on Utopia*.” J. The Historical Journal 24, no. 01 (1981): 1-27. Accessed September 30, 2015.

Response Paper 3

Filed under: Portfolio — William Saada @ 3:26 pm

The Philosopher King

 

The Philosopher King makes Kallipolis a utopian society because he seeks true knowledge and rules for the benefit of the city rather than himself.  A philosopher’s soul desires to seek the truth above all else.  This enables him to be the best ruler for the happiness of the city as a whole.  Socrates’ ship analogy explains how a philosopher is better suited to lead than other members of society because a philosopher would not lead to fulfil his own desires.  He refers to a ship captain who is clearly not competent for his position.  Each crew member plots a way to become the captain themselves by the use of force, trickery or persuasion.  Consequently, the new captain is not the one who is most fit to navigate the ship but it is the one who was able to overthrow or convince the old captain.  Naturally, the captain should be the one who is most knowledgeable on navigation and running a ship.  In terms of a city, it is the one who is most knowledgeable on what is truly right and wrong who should rule: a philosopher. This makes it utopian because the ruler is not in charge of the city for personal benefit.  In most societies rulers come to power because they are wealthy, persuasive or powerful.  However, none of these traits make a good ruler.  In fact, these traits tend to be associated with people who are selfish and greedy.  For example, in Plato’s time, the democracy was dominated by those who had wealth and could convince citizens to accept their ideas. Someone who is wealthy can use money to get their way, which can lead to an unjust law.  A philosopher will never make a decision for personal gain like many rulers do.  Additionally, he will not make decisions to gain honor and praise, but he will make decisions to be benefit the entire community.  The knowledgeable part of his soul, which overpowers the other two parts, makes him just and thus fit to rule a utopian society.

And important component of the Philosopher King is their unwillingness to rule which makes them the best fit to be the leader.  One of Socrates subjects notes that the Philosopher King will be unhappy and reluctant to rule after being properly educated.  Socrates responds by saying that they will have a sense of duty to pay back the city for their upbringing.  One who rules out of duty rather than for personal gain will be a better ruler.  They are chosen and rule for the benefit of the entire city, which will also erase conflict over who shall rule.  It is utopian because no one part of society benefits at the expense of another.  Each member of the society does their part by sacrificing some of their freedom.  The Philosopher King, for example, would rather not rule, but he does because it is his duty.  This is utopian because the happiness of the city as a whole is prioritized over the happiness of individuals.  A philosopher would rather not associate themselves with people of less intelligence, however, by ruling he will benefit the entire community.  Many ideologies seek to create a better means of government such as communism and democracy.  But in both of these societies the wealthy and powerful benefit at the expense of everyone else.  But Plato offers a truly Utopian society with a just and wise ruler fit to be King.

 

I pledge that I have neither received nor given unauthorized assistance during the completion of this work.

Response Paper 2

Filed under: Portfolio — William Saada @ 3:25 pm

 

Plato’s Use of the Socratic Method to Define Justice

 

Plato teaches the reader about justice specifically through two techniques: asking questions and creating analogies via his teacher Socrates.  First he poses broad questions such as, “What is Justice?” and whether or not is it more beneficial than injustice?  He allows others to answer him and finds flaws in their arguments. Socrates disproves two common definitions of justice.  By finding out what is not justice it will help determine what it is.  In addition, Plato has Socrates ask very specific and simple questions to prove his points.  For example, Socrates asks, “But with natures like that, Glaucon, how will they avoid being like savages to one another and to the other citizens?” (Plato).  Socrates already knows the answer to this question but he is making sure everyone can follow his argument.  By taking it slow and asking questions, he leaves no holes in his argument.  Asking questions also gives his listeners a chance to follow along and notify Socrates when they are confused.  Many times in chapter two Glaucon asks questions such as “In what way?” so Socrates can clarify his meaning.   The next technique is his use of analogies to draw similarities between his arguments and real world scenarios.  In the quotation above Socrates refers to his analogy connecting a dog and how a good guardian should act.  He later makes the point that because a dog can be both “high-spirited and gentle,” then it must be possible for humans to acquire these natures as well.  He then states, “and what we are seeking in a good guardian is not contrary to nature” (Plato). By making analogies with things found in nature he proves his point.  Because dogs can have both of these natures than it must be possible for man to have them as well.  This is helpful for the reader because it establishes a connection between his point and something similar found in this world.  By finding connections to nature and asking questions Socrates makes his point very efficiently and carefully.  

In addition to asking broad questions, Socrates uses a broad strategy to define justice.  Instead of focusing on what a just individual is like, Socrates seeks to build a just society, step by step. He looks for justices within his Republic and plans to find similarities between that and the individual.  This is both important and effective because it is difficult to simply find justice for an individual.  Without a society justice is non existent.  One man alone can not be just or unjust there must be other people to interact with.  The Republic is Socrates’ means of finding how justice can be achieved by a society.  Then, once the society has been made, the just individual will become more clear.  For a society to be just members of the society must be just as well.  Even if there is a very strong legal and political system, people in the society can still be unjust.  The only way to truly create a just society requires justice both in the society and in its members.

Response Paper 1

Filed under: Portfolio — William Saada @ 3:14 pm

A Social Utopia

 

The basis of a utopian community would be the ability to work together and hold the needs of the entire community above the needs of individuals.  Since everyone contains a unique skill set, each member would be given a profession based on their ability and preference.  Each job would be something necessary for the community’s survival and prosperity.  However, there would be no salary for completion but it would be necessary to complete in order to be a part of the community.  For example, cooks would be required to make food for the entire community.  All members would be given access to a meal as long as they complete their own job.  Ultimately, everyone is working for each other and not for themselves.  Greed must not be tolerated for this utopia to exist.  If one member of the community seeks to gain more than an other member, it would no longer be fair.  The economy and material wealth of the community must be evenly distributed.

Additionally, the community would need to be free of conflict and segregation in order to live peacefully.  Along with no individuals having more than each other, no group of people can be entitled to more wealth or privilege than another.  For example, those who believe in a certain religion shall not be considered any higher than those who do not believe in said religion.  Ideally the entire population would share similar religious and political beliefs in order to avoid too much disagreement.  Evidentially there will be differences among members in the the community.  However, they must be handled peacefully and responsibly in order to keep the peace.  In order to combat conflict there must be a strict legal system in place.  Breaking a rule can not be taken lightly in this world.  If someone can not follow the rules, then he or she will not be allowed in the society.  The legal system must be strong and ethical.  No innocent member would be charged with a crime and all criminals will be caught.  In this world, however, crime would be rare because each member would be satisfied and unified.  The ideal location for this utopia would be an ascetically pleasing, self sustaining island.  The isolation of the utopia would keep external conflicts away from the island.

Righteousness and equality keep members of the society unified by distributing the wealth and privilege evenly.  This alone would create a fair society but a Utopia must not only be just but also enjoyable.  Each member must be entertained and distracted to keep the morale and happiness in the community high.  The members of the society gifted with humor and creativity would be tasked with putting on shows, performances and games as means of entertainment.  The best athletes would compete in front of large crowds.  Additionally, there would be plenty of social events and gatherings not only to serve as entertainment but to bring members of the society closer together.  Finding a balance between work and play would be essential for this to be successful.  If they focus too much on entertainment, then the society may not be able to function well and resources could become scarce.  But if there is too much work then people may become disturbed with the society and create political conflict.

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