#AtoZChallenge2015: Utopia

Idealistic dream, vain hopes of justice and perfection, for others perhaps more dystopia? History and fiction are full of tentative or real utopia, for mankind never gives up…

“The term utopia was coined in Greek by Sir Thomas More for his 1516 book Utopia, describing a fictional island society in the Atlantic Ocean.

The word comes from the Greekοὐ (“not”) and τόπος (“place”) and means “no-place“, and strictly describes any non-existent society ‘described in considerable detail’. However, in standard usage, the word’s meaning has narrowed and now usually describes a non-existent society that is intended to be viewed as considerably better than contemporary society.[1] Eutopia, derived from the Greek εὖ (“good” or “well”) and τόπος (“place”), means “good place”, and is strictly speaking the correct term to describe a positive utopia. In Englisheutopia and utopia are homophonous, which may have given rise to the change in meaning…

Chronologically, the first recorded utopian proposal is Plato‘s Republic.[3] Part conversation, part fictional depiction, and part policy proposal, it proposes a categorization of citizens into a rigid class structure of “golden,” “silver,” “bronze” and “iron” socioeconomic classes. The golden citizens are trained in a rigorous 50-year-long educational program to be benign oligarchs, the “philosopher-kings.” Plato had stressed this many times in both quotes by him and in his published works, such as The Republic. The wisdom of these rulers will supposedly eliminate poverty and deprivation through fairly distributed resources, though the details on how to do this are unclear. The educational program for the rulers is the central notion of the proposal. It has few laws, no lawyers and rarely sends its citizens to war, but hires mercenaries from among its war-prone neighbors (these mercenaries were deliberately sent into dangerous situations in the hope that the more warlike populations of all surrounding countries will be weeded out, leaving peaceful peoples).

During the 16th century, Thomas More’s book Utopia proposed an ideal society of the same name. Some readers, including utopian socialists, have chosen to accept this imaginary society as the realistic blueprint for a working nation, while others have postulated that More intended nothing of the sort. Some maintain the position that More’s Utopia functions only on the level of a satire, a work intended to reveal more about the England of his time than about an idealistic society. This interpretation is bolstered by the title of the book and nation, and its apparent confusion between the Greek for “no place” and “good place”: “utopia” is a compound of the syllable ou-, meaning “no”, and topos, meaning place. But the homophonic prefix eu-, meaning “good,” also resonates in the word, with the implication that the perfectly “good place” is really “no place.” (…)

A global utopia of world peace is often seen as one of the possible end results of world history. Within the localized political structures or spheres it presents, “polyculturalism” is the model-based adaptation of possible interactions with different cultures and identities in accordance with the principles of participatory society.[6]

The Soviet writer Ivan Efremov produced, during the “Thaw” period, the science-fiction utopia Andromeda (1957) in which a united humanity communicates with a galaxy-wide Great Circle and develops its technology and culture within a social framework characterized by vigorous competition between alternative philosophies.

The English political philosopher James Harrington, author of the utopian work The Commonwealth of Oceana, inspired English country party republicanism and was influential in the design of three American colonies. His theories ultimately contributed to the idealistic principles of the American Founders. The colonies of Carolina (founded in 1670), Pennsylvania (founded in 1681), and Georgia (founded in 1733) were the only three English colonies in America that were planned as utopian societies with an integrated physical, economic, and social design. At the heart of the plan for Georgia was a concept of “agrarian equality” in which land was allocated equally and additional land acquisition through purchase or inheritance was prohibited; the plan was an early step toward the yeoman republic later envisioned by Thomas Jefferson.[7][8][9]

The communes of the 1960s in the United States were often an attempt to greatly improve the way humans live together in communities. The back to the land movements and hippies inspired many to try to live in peace and harmony on farms, remote areas, and to set up new types of governance.

Intentional communities were organized and built all over the world with the hope of making a more perfect way of living together. However, many of these new small communities failed, but some are growing like the Twelve Tribes Communities that started in the United States and have grown to many tribes around the world.”

(From Wikipedia article)

Image: “Hieronymus Bosch – The Garden of Earthly Delights – The Earthly Paradise (Garden of Eden)” by Hieronymus Bosch (circa 1450–1516) – →This file has been extracted from another file: Jheronimus Bosch 023.jpg.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hieronymus_Bosch_-_The_Garden_of_Earthly_Delights_-_The_Earthly_Paradise_(Garden_of_Eden).jpg

#AtoZAprilChallenge: Dialectic

Plato According to Williams dialectic “appeared in English from the fourteenth century, in its Latin sense to describe what we would now call logic. Dialectique, dialectica, dialektike, were all, in their primary senses, the art of discussion and debate, and then, by derivation, the investigation of truth and discussion… Plato’s version has an important subsequent history: dialektike meant the art of defining ideas and, related to this, the method of determining the interrelations of ideas in the light of a single principle. These two senses would later be distinguished as logic and metaphysics respectively…

There was then a special and influential use of dialectic in German idealist philosophy. This extended the notion of contradiction in the course of a discussion or dispute to a notion of contradiction in reality. For Kant, dialectical criticism showed the mutually contradictory character of the principles of knowledge when these were extended to metaphysical realities. For Hegel, such contradictions were surpassed, both in thought and in the world-history… in a higher and unified truth: the dialectical process was then the continual unification of opposites, in the complex relation of parts to a whole. A version of this process – the famous triad of thesis, antithesis and synthesis – was given by Fichte. It was then in Marxism that the sense of dialectic to indicate a progressive unification  through the contradiction of opposites was given a specific reference in what Engels called dialectical materialism.”