Social Utopias: Will Saada Fall 2015

October 18, 2015

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.




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

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