Winner of the 1975 National Book Award, this brilliant and widely acclaimed book is a powerful philosophical challenge to the most widely held political and social positions of our age--liberal, socialist, and conservative.
I have a map which indicates clearly and beyond any doubt the way to Utopia. I start the journey with a survival kit of paradigmatic egalities, noumenal legalities, and nervous ideals. However, the more I move into the uncartographied space, the more I realise that my survival kit is changing, to the point of becoming porous and permeable. The journey to Utopia is condensed to a log of phenomenological bracketing, where the immersion to the Lebensweltequals the loss of oneself, and (...) where the descent from the Transcendental to the Natural proves to be as meaningful as the escalating bracketing from the Natural to the Transcendental. The negation of Utopia displaces not only my Utopia but also my egocentric quest for identity: the ‘I’ becomes ‘me’ before it vanishes, space becomes place, intentionality turns back to itself and retraces its path. The more I approach my destination, the more negation devours distance. When I finally arrive to the designated point, where, according to the map, lies Utopia, the only thing I discover is a map, identical to the one I hold, that indicates, clearly and beyond any doubt, the way to Utopia. (shrink)
In this major new work by one of the leading writers on Utopian Studies, Ruth Levitas argues that a prospective future of ecological and economic crises poses a challenge to the utopian imaginary, to conceive a better world and alternative future. Utopia as Method does not construe utopia as goal or blueprint, but as a holistic, reflexive method for developing what those possible futures might be. It begins by treating utopia as the quest for grace, through a hermeneutics that recovers (...) the utopian meaning in our culture, explored through colour and music. Moving from the existential to the social, it draws on H.G. Wells's claim that the creation of utopias is the distinctive and proper method of sociology, and on the tentative reappearance of utopia in contemporary social theory. It proposes a constructive method, the Imaginary Reconstitution of Society. This fusion of explicitly normative social theory and analytic critique rehabilitates utopia as an integral part of sociology, and offers a means of collective engagement in shaping a better tomorrow."--Publisher's description. (shrink)
When we make public policy choices, is it helpful to know how utopia would look? Amartya Sen argues that it is neither necessary, nor sufficient, nor even contributory. He claims that before making a policy choice one should compare several feasible institutional designs to see which promotes justice most, and that it is misleading to use the perfect design as a standard in those comparisons. Principles of justice are the proper standard. The present article contends that the perfect design has (...) nevertheless an important role to play in the prior task of identifying and refining our principles of justice. It also shows that the perfect design—in at least one sense of this term—may be a legitimate long-term goal for present policy choices. (shrink)
The people in utopias have many characteristics Abraham Maslow said self‐actualized people have: they're accepting, spontaneous, creative, appreciative of life, honest, responsible, and hardworking; they even maintain deep relationships and have childlike wonder. In Star Trek: Mission Log, Ken Ray defends life under the care of Norman's androids on Mudd's planet as preferable because of its possibilities for self‐actualization. Self‐actualization is impossible unless the basic biological, safety, and social needs are met, all of which the spores and Vaal guarantee. (...) The spores even saved the colonists’ lives. Once one achieves self‐actualization, it's easy to pity those who can't attain it; but for those who struggle just to survive, giving up safety and security for an unlikely chance at self‐actualization would seem crazy. The criticisms of Vaal seem to echo the criticisms of communism, and the control a communist government must exercise in providing for its people. (shrink)
Black Utopias posits a concept of utopia made possible by black people's exclusion from the human and expressed through the ecstatic practices, community creation, speculative fiction and music. Jayna Brown explores the practices and works of 19th century black women mystics as well as 20th century musicians and speculative fiction writers including mystics Sojourner Truth and Rebecca Cox Jackson, musicians Alice Coltrane and Sun Ra, and writers Samuel Delany and Octavia Butler.
The author challenges the canonical opposition of utopia vs. realism in political thought. Although this opposition traces back to the very origins of Western political theory, in the works of such authors as Thucydides and Plato, the author maintains that both ‘utopian’ and ‘realist’ thinkers of every age keep the reality of their society in the background of their political constructions. The real difference is in their view of human nature: ‘utopian’ thinkers have a more optimistic view of human nature, (...) they see it flexible and prone to be changed by education and institutions; whereas ‘realist’ thinkers have a more pessimistic vision of man and have less faith in the power of laws and education. Based on their anthropological view, political authors have different expectations to mould human nature and different hopes to create a perfect society. This view is supported by an examination of Thucydides, Plato and Machiavelli and by reference to some other classic political thinkers in the Western tradition. (shrink)
If you assume the progression of humanity points to a pattern, then nearly everything you encounter in life is a piece of data in the puzzle of mankind's fate. Does it paint a doom and gloom prospect or is it going somewhere amazing? Matthew Sexton's debut novel is a glimpse into the evolution of humanity and its inherent potential going forward. The goal to marginalize pessimism and negativity is critical to our efforts of progression. But it is not just optimism (...) or wishful thinking that Sexton professes; it's realism based on the wonders of the modern world. Knowledge and its results, such as technology and standardized practices which have proven their worth, are not the products of a single individual's efforts but a 'collective consciousness,' a concerted, connected effort that portends an extraordinary future of boundless possibility. There is no reason to assume this progress is reaching its boundaries or even that they are in sight. Thought provoking and sound in principle, Utopia rising probes without cynicism and with a desire for deeper understanding of the overall complexity, interrelatedness, and nature of our beings. It then goes on to offer suggestions on how to maximize the efforts toward the long range goals and thoughts on what will eventually prove to be the ideals of a future built by mankind's incredible ability to achieve"--Back cover. (shrink)
Environmentalism has relentlessly warned about the dire consequences of abusing and exploiting the planet's natural resources, imagining future wastelands of ecological depletion and social chaos. But it has also generated rich new ideas about how humans might live better with nature. Green Utopias explores these ideas of environmental hope in the post-war period, from the environmental crisis to the end of nature. Using a broad definition of Utopia as it exists in Western policy, theory and literature, Lisa Garforth explains (...) how its developing entanglement with popular culture and mainstream politics has shaped successive green future visions and initiatives. In the face of apocalyptic, despairing or indifferent responses to contemporary ecological dilemmas, utopias and the utopian method seem more necessary than ever. This distinctive reading of green political thought and culture will appeal across the social sciences and humanities to all interested in why green utopias continue to matter in the cultivation of ecological values and the emergence of new forms of human and non-human well-being. (shrink)
This paper reexamines Adorno’s conception of utopia within the context of his critique of the concept of progress. It contests the standard interpretation which conveys Adorno’s conception of utopia to be imbued with an essentially extra-historical idea of redemption. I argue, contrary to this view, that the motif of redemption surfacing in Adorno’s conception of utopia negates a specific type of historical life – life under which historical consciousness sinks into oblivion – rather than history per se. In order to (...) reveal the historicality of Adorno’s conception of utopia, I examine his fragmentary yet consistent critique of the concept of progress, which, far from calling for total abandonment, aims to access and unearth its truth-content. Last but not least, I visit Adorno’s suggestion regarding the consonance of utopia with genuine progress, assessing its implications vis-à-vis a characteristic feature of mythological life, the ratio of self-preservation. (shrink)
One of the most historically recent and damaging blows to the reputation of utopianism came from its association with the totalitarian regimes of Hitler’s Third Reich and Mussolini’s Fascist party in World War II and the prewar era. Being an apologist for utopianism, it seemed to some, was tantamount to being an apologist for Nazism and all of its concomitant horrors. The fantasy principle of utopia was viewed as irretrievably bound up with the irrationalism of modern dictatorship. While these conclusions (...) are somewhat understandable given the broad strokes that definitions of utopia are typically painted with, I will show in this paper that the link between the mythos of fascism and the constructs of utopianism results from an unfortunate conflation at the theoretical level. The irrationalism of any mass ethos and the rationalism of the thoughtful utopian planner are, indeed, completely at odds with each other. I arrive at this conclusion via an analysis of the concepts of myth and narrative, and the relationships these have with the concept of utopia. (shrink)
This article examines the relationship between utopian production and reception via a reading of the work of the great utopian author and theorist William Morris. This relationship has invariably been defined by an inequality: utopian producers have claimed unlimited freedom in their attempts to imagine new worlds, while utopian recipients have been asked to adopt such visions as their own without question. Morris’s work suggests two possible responses to this inequality. One response, associated with theorist Miguel Abensour, is to liberate (...) reception, with Morris’s utopianism containing an invitation to readers to reformulate the vision proffered. However, this response, despite its dominance in contemporary utopian theory, not only misreads Morris but also undermines the political efficacy of utopianism. Consequently, I suggest that Morris responds to the problem of utopian inequality by constraining production, proposing a historical control on utopianising; new utopias are directed by an archive of visions articulated in past struggles. (shrink)
Tematem tekstu jest wizja społeczeństwa postkapitalistycznego brytyjskiego ekonomisty i badacza zrównoważonego rozwoju, Tima Jacksona. Jest to utopia unikatowa, możliwa do zrealizowania, budowana w oparciu o najnowsze ekonomiczne ustalenia empiryczne i raporty przyrodoznawców dotyczące powagi współczesnych zagrożeń środowiskowych. Artykuł systematycznie rekonstruuje jej najważniejsze założenia. Argumentacje Jacksona wymierzone są przeciwko „wzrościzmowi” (ang. growthism), to znaczy bezrefleksyjnej akceptacji samej logiki nie kończącego się wzrostu gospodarczego za wszelką cenę. Utopia budowana przez tego ekonomistę opiera się na filarach równowagi, dobrobytu (prosperity), psychologicznego przepływu (flow) i (...) wytwarzania (work). Artykuł wykorzystuje idee zawarte w pracach Jacksona (Dobrobyt bez wzrostu. Ekonomia dla planety o ograniczonych zasobach z 2009 roku oraz Post Growth. Life after Capitalism z roku 2021), a także wybrane tezy i ustalenia nurtu ekonomii ekologicznej dewzrostu. (shrink)
Via the existential questioning outlook supplied by the Grasshopper’s three visions as relevant to the fate of humankind – oblivion, delusion, and really magnificent games – this article seeks to alleviate some of the ambiguity surrounding Bernard Suits’ provocative claim that Utopian existence is fundamentally concerned with game-playing. Specifically, after proposing an interpretation of Suits’ parable designed to enrich the logical intelligibility of his Utopian thesis, I advance the suggestion that the Grasshopper’s picture of people playing really magnificent games is (...) reasonably interpreted as a clue that the philosopher’s quest to discern games worthy of a Utopian might very well be that which saves humanity from the desolate oblivion-delusion paradox erected as a consequence of the initial two visions. (shrink)
En este artículo revisamos la huelga general en _Para una crítica de la violencia_ de Walter Benjamin, enfatizando en las temporalidades que se desprenden del análisis de los _medios puros_, concentrándonos, especialmente, en la noción de _huelga general proletaria_. Así, proponemos revisar esta _huelga general soreliana _y su relación con la _violencia_ _mítica_ y la_ divina_. Por lo tanto, mostramos la distinción entre _utopía _y _mito_ en las _Reflexiones sobre la violencia_, porque a partir de estas conceptualizaciones se separarían la (...) _huelga general política_ de la _huelga general proletaria_. Entonces, proponemos leer el vínculo entre Benjamin y Sorel desde la _temporalidad _del _medio puro benjaminiano_ en el que se convierte el _mito soreliano de la huelga general proletaria_. (shrink)
The field of medicine is generally greeted with great enthusiasm. This can be witnessed in the immense support for medical progress, which is widely hoped to lead to a realization of idealized goals. Indeed, with the help of medicine the human body would be controllable and constructible, human nature perfectible. However, enthusiasm in favor of medical progress is first and foremost a sentiment and, like all sentiments, not necessarily a product of rational contemplation. People are capable of enthusing about the (...) realization of utopian notions, such as life without disease or with the perfect body, without requiring any concrete arguments to back them up. Enthusiasm alone is not a guarantee of ethical desirability, however. Hence, this book takes a closer look at four research fields often referred to in medical utopian literature: 'tissue engineering', 'bioelectronics', 'germ line genome modification' and 'interventions in the biological aging process'. They serve as a basis for analyzing whether ethical arguments can be found to support the euphoric advocacy of the further development of these fields. (shrink)
Thomas More’s Utopia, a book that will be 500 years old next year, is astonishingly radical stuff. Not many lord chancellors of England have denounced private property, advocated a form of communism and described the current social order as a “conspiracy of the rich.” Such men, the book announces, are “greedy, unscrupulous and useless.” There are a great number of noblemen, More complains, who live like drones on the labour of others. Tenants are evicted so that “one insatiable glutton and (...) accursed plague of his native land” may consolidate his fields. Monarchs, he argues, would do well to swear at their inauguration never to have more than 1,000lbs of gold in their coffers. Perhaps this is one reason why Utopia is... (shrink)
From 1900 onwards, scientists and novelists have explored the contours of a future society based on the use of “anthropotechnologies” (techniques applicable to human beings for the purpose of performance enhancement ranging from training and education to genome-based biotechnologies). Gradually but steadily, the technologies involved migrated from (science) fiction into scholarly publications, and from “utopia” (or “dystopia”) into science. Building on seminal ideas borrowed from Nietzsche, Peter Sloterdijk has outlined the challenges inherent in this development. Since time immemorial, and at (...) least since the days of Plato’s Academy, human beings have been interested in possibilities for (physical or mental) performance enhancement. We are constantly trying to improve ourselves, both collectively and individually, for better or for worse. At present, however, new genomics-based technologies are opening up new avenues for self-amelioration. Developments in research facilities using animal models may to a certain extent be seen as expeditions into our own future. Are we able to address the bioethical and biopolitical issues awaiting us? After analyzing and assessing Sloterdijk’s views, attention will shift to a concrete domain of application, namely sport genomics. For various reasons, top athletes are likely to play the role of genomics pioneers by using personalized genomics information to adjust diet, life-style, training schedules and doping intake to the strengths and weaknesses of their personalized genome information. Thus, sport genomics may be regarded as a test bed where the contours of genomics-based self-management are tried out. (shrink)
To measure the life `as it is' by a life `as it might or should be' is a defining, constitutive feature of humanity. The urge to transcend is nearest to a universal, and arguably the least destructible, attribute of human existence. This cannot be said, however, of its articulations into `projects' - that is, of cohesive and comprehensive programmes of change and of visions of life that the change is hoped to bring about - visions that stand out of reality, (...) adumbrating a fully and truly different, alternative world. For the constantly present transgressive urge to be articulated into such projects, some less common conditions must arise. Utopia is one of the forms such uncommon articulations may take. This article explores the conditions that defined that form - those of modernity in its initial `solid' stage, a form that was marked and set apart from other articulations of the transgression urge by two remarkable attributes: territoriality and finality. It is concluded that in the transgressive imagination of `liquid modernity' the `place' (whether physical or social) has been replaced by the unending sequence of new beginnings, inconsequentiality of deeds has been substituted for fixity of order, and the desire for a different today has elbowed out concern with a better tomorrow. (shrink)
El presente artículo reivindica para el Chile de hoy las ideas de libertad, igualdad y fraternidad como utopías, capaces de transformar lo inaceptable del momento presente reivindicando sueños despiertos y horizontes de esperanza. Advierte que no todo utopía es liberadora, reclama una revolución copernicana de la política, rescata los sueños igualitarios en el Chile decimonónico y declara que las experiencias humanistas propias del utopismo han tendido a ser subvaloradas. Concluye con una crítica a la idolatría del mercado y consignando que (...) este periodo de la historia de Chile sería analogable a la República Parlamentaria. (shrink)
It has often been argued that Thomas More’s Utopia is fundamentally concerned with outlining and theoretically justifying an ideal model of society and not with determining what would be the practical steps required for its establishment in the real world. Even if we were to accept this widespread interpretation, I consider that it is possible to recognize in the text indications that suggest two different and even opposing paths along which the political construction of Utopia could take place. The first, (...) and strictly speaking, the only one that the work is trying to put forward, is individual, elitist, coercive, and top-down. The second that, for its part, seems to be presented rather with the intention of preventing it from coming to fruition is hence, on the contrary, collective, popular, insurrectionary and from below. The present article tries, first, to show how and through what arguments these two models of action are presented in More’s work, taking note, in addition, of the important difficulties involved in the one which it intends to propose. After this, two historical realizations immediately after Utopia was published that illustrate them are developed. Finally, the present article tries to establish what relationship these two paths have with each other according to the work’s approach and, also, suggest what alternative relationship they could maintain if a different point of view was attempted. (shrink)
This article argues for a reconceptualization of utopia as akairological rupture. Its central thesis disputes the conventional reading of utopia as a teleological goal to be realized by a social collective. Thus rather than viewing the potentiality of utopia as a prescribed ideal commonwealth whose inhabitants live in harmony, I argue that it should be seen as an akairological rupture, manifested through a determinately negative, individual, approach. In this reading, utopia is primarily a social condition within culture, and perennially opposed (...) to any ideal telos. This temporal and qualitative reconceptualization of utopia as disruptive is anathema to the positive reading that sees it as feasible through social reform and rational discourse. This reconceptualization argues for the importance of developing a reading of utopia that can transcend any reified, fixed conception that seeks to domesticate it in the service of a contingent political aspiration, however noble and humanitarian it may appear to be. Herein lies its critical potentiality under neoliberal conditions. (shrink)
The recovery of politics as the art of what is possible, implies an adequate relationship with utopia, which is a condition of political realism. This supposes the affirmation of reality as the condition of possibility in human life, in contrast with its displacement by the hegemonic fetishist per..
Contemporary political philosophers disagree about whether theories of justice should be utopian or realistic. Contributors to this volume largely deny that the choice between realism and idealism is binary. Their contributions represent a continuum between realism and idealism that best represents the contemporary state of the debate.
The clash between these two dimensions of human condition – but also their complementary nature – make utopia and melancholy specially compelling as they address us today from Don Quixote’s text, providing an accurate standing from which both the author and his protagonist become our contemporaries. Taking an ethic point of departure, we shall consider the aim of the fantasies of Don Quixote is to modify the reality in a certain moral sense, despite of his ridiculously and impractical goals. At (...) the same time The Quixote’s utopia is interrelated with the melancholic Quixote’s character. The melancholy arises from the ethic conscience which is leaded by the moral duty of the justice. This article shows clearly the double melancholic and utopian nature of Don Quixote’s character, which is chaired by a modern ethic conscience. (shrink)
Jonas and Levinas are two names intimately associated with contemporary ethics. While they are not unequivocally linked to utopian thought, they have nonetheless decisively contributed to rethinking utopia. In this essay, I seek in these two authors and their texts the elements of a critical reading that would allow us to analyse and reconsider the question of utopia as it is formulated by thinkers more directly associated with it, such as Bloch, Buber and Bacon.
At first glance, "practical utopias" might appear to be a contradiction in terms. If, to be sure, most utopian proponents would love to see their schemes realized, painfully few offer the practical skills and detailed blueprints to come close to that goal or to obtain a sufficient following to achieve long-term successes, whether sustainable utopian communities or substantial political and economic transformations or even lasting takeaways from temporary world's fairs. Yet "practical utopias" can legitimately be applied to the (...) "techno-fixes" discussed here without contradiction."Techno-fixes" are avowedly practical. They are quick shortcuts to try to solve long-standing and deeply rooted economic, social... (shrink)
El ejercicio utópico de la voluntad política que caracteriza el XIX latinoamericano se desgrana en las categorías de unidad continental, unidad cultural, unidad en el concepto de Patria, etc.; clausurando un apretado siglo de extrema densidad social y política, un siglo de utopía en el discurso. Una Ilustración insuficiente, el coste del hibridismo, las comunidades imaginadas, las dependencias encadenadas, las resistencias, los logros y los fracasos, traducen el sacrificio, la traición y la inconclusión de la tarea emancipatoria. Si podemos contemplar (...) hoy día el descubrimiento de América como el comienzo de una empresa civilizatoria, y admirar sus obras más allá del trabajo infatigable de una destrucción que no ha cesado, es sólo en virtud de esta tradición de crítica y resistencia , a lo largo de un proceso social, artístico y literario ininterrumpido hasta el día de hoy. (shrink)
The article deals with the philosophy of Nikolai Berdjaev (1874–1948), which he formulated between The Philosophy of Inequality (written in 1918, but published in 1923) and The New Middle - Ages (1924). Berdjaev’s philosophy is analyzed in the context of the Russian Revolution of 1917 and its aftermath. The other point of reference is the crisis of culture and civilisation, which affected the West in the inter-war period. Berdjaev’s position has been interpreted in view of the archetypal myth of the (...) struggle of the two principles, the principle of order (cosmos) and the forces of destruction (chaos). This myth is tied to the millenialist world view. Berdjaev took an anti-utopian stance. He juxtaposed the utopian-revolutionary principle with the hierarchical-creative one. From this position he criticized among others democracy, liberalism and socialism. In the midst of the crisis of the 1920s he remarked the possibility of spiritual rejuvenation putting forward the concept of the New Middle-Ages. One can say that at that time Berdjaev’s philosophy evolved within the conservative-creative framework, from the utopia of conservatism to the utopia of ‘free creativity’. (shrink)
The focus of this article is community supported agriculture (CSA) as an alternative food movement and a bottom-up response to the problems of the dominant food systems. By utilizing social innovation approach that explores the relationship between causes for human needs and emergence of socially innovative food initiatives, the article examines how the CSA projects emerge and why, what is their innovative role as part of the social economy and what is their transformative potential. Based on qualitative data from four (...) different models of CSA case studies in different regions of Wales, UK, and by using concepts from an alternative model for social innovation (ALMOLIN) as analytical tool, the article demonstrates that the Welsh CSA cases play distinctive roles as part of the social economy. They satisfy the needs for ecologically sound and ethically produced food, grown within communities of like-minded people and they empower individuals and communities at micro level, while at the same time experiment with how to be economically sustainable and resilient on a small scale. The paper argues that in order to become ‘workable utopias’, the CSA initiatives need to overcome the barriers that prevent them from replicating, participating in policies and decision-making at macro level, and scaling up. (shrink)
El presente artículo se sostiene que la teoría neoliberal pretende ser una interpretación verdadera de la realidad humana y social, pero a su vez contiene una utopía -en el sentido de un proyecto irrealizable, aún cuando todos estuvieran de acuerdo en intentar ponerlo en práctica; todo esto en un contexto intelectual donde tiene significativa presencia la tesis del fin de los metarelatos y de las utopías. Paradójicamente, postula el autor, la teoría neoliberal cumple las funciones de una ideología y una (...) utopía, y hasta intenta responder a las principales preguntas sobre el hombre, la libertad, el sentido de la vida humana, la sociedad y sus instituciones. El artículo recorre su historia y presenta las teorías críticas a este pensamiento, y concluye mostrando el carácter político de la utopía neoliberal. (shrink)
There is a respectable feminist tradition in utopian thought. Dreams and fantasies about gender-equal, women-friendly or female-dominated worlds have been formulated abundantly. However, utopian thinking has also met with severe criticism. By definition, utopias were said to be too idealistic, and of little use in the process of societal change. More recently, it has been stressed that the concept of utopia has been superseded by postmodern awareness, in which general explanations of gender inequality (and, along with them, general utopian (...) views) are disqualified to the benefit of more local and more specific theories. In this book, the reader will find not one general, broadly defined utopia, but instead, a wide array of more or less specific, feminist utopias. Utopias are viewed as preliminary and imaginary goals from which present situations can be revalued and from which strategies for change can be developed. As such, utopias have not lost their significance. (shrink)
Starting from Miguel Abensour’s contribution, the article addresses an interpretation of the concept of utopia aiming to stress its political nature and to place it within the movement of emancipation emerged throughout the nineteenth century. The first part of the article points out four fundamental dimensions of the Abensourian concept of utopia, whilst the second part aims to locate it within the broader context of the French Marxism debates and, in this way, to link it with Jacques Rancière’s thought of (...) utopia. The conclusion provides a critical interpretation of the considered idea of utopia and maps out the political-intellectual environment emerged around that idea in France at the end of the 1990s. (shrink)
Humanism as form -- The construction of the Erasmian Republic of Letters -- Erasmian humanism : the reform program of the universal intellectual -- The politics of a disembodied humanist -- More's Richard III : the fragility of humanist discourse -- Utopia and the no-place of the Erasmian republic.
The figure of the intellectual looms large in modern history, and yet his or her social place has always been full of ambiguity and ironies. Between Utopia and Dystopia is a study of the movement that created the identity of the universal intellectual: Erasmian humanism. Focusing on the writings of Erasmus and Thomas More, Hanan Yoran argues that, in contrast to other groups of humanists, Erasmus and the circle gathered around him generated the social space—the Erasmian Republic of Letters—that allowed (...) them a considerable measure of independence. The identity of the autonomous intellectual enabled the Erasmian humanists to criticize established customs and institutions and to elaborate a reform program for Christendom. At the same time, however, the very notion of the universal intellectual presented a problem for the discourse of Erasmian humanism itself. It distanced the Erasmian humanists from concrete public activity and, as such, clashed with their commitment to the ideal of an active life. Furthermore, citizenship in the Republic of Letters threatened to lock the Erasmian humanists into a disembodied intellectual sphere, thus undermining their convictions concerning intellectual activity and the production of knowledge. Between Utopia and Dystopia will be of interest to scholars and students interested in Renaissance humanism, early modern intellectual and cultural history, and political thought. It also has much to contribute to debates over the identity, social place, and historical role of intellectuals. (shrink)
In this detailed study of the republican tradition in the development of the Enlightenment, the central problem of utopia and reform is crystallized in a discussion of the right to punish. Describing the political situation in Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the author shows how the old republics in Italy, Poland and Holland stagnated and were unable to survive in the age of absolutism. The Philosophes discussed the ideal of republicanism against this background. They were particularly influenced by (...) the political and religious radicalism of John Toland, which had survived the English Restoration and was then reaching Europe. Professor Venturi traces the debate on the penal laws and the attempt to relate utopian ideas of society to the practical problem of dealing with man in society, which culminated in the assertion by many Philosophes that an unjust social system necessitated harsh penal laws, thereby rejecting the possibility of reform. (shrink)
Within the history of African American struggle against racist oppression that often verges on dystopia, a hidden tradition has depicted a transfigured world. Daring to speculate on a future beyond white supremacy, black utopian artists and thinkers offer powerful visions of ways of being that are built on radical concepts of justice and freedom. They imagine a new black citizen who would inhabit a world that soars above all existing notions of the possible. In Black Utopia, Alex Zamalin offers a (...) groundbreaking examination of African American visions of social transformation and their counterutopian counterparts. Considering figures associated with racial separatism, postracialism, anticolonialism, Pan-Africanism, and Afrofuturism, he argues that the black utopian tradition continues to challenge American political thought and culture. Black Utopia spans black nationalist visions of an ideal Africa, the fiction of W. E. B. Du Bois, and Sun Ra’s cosmic mythology of alien abduction. Zamalin casts Samuel R. Delany and Octavia E. Butler as political theorists and reflects on the antiutopian challenges of George S. Schuyler and Richard Wright. Their thought proves that utopianism, rather than being politically immature or dangerous, can invigorate political imagination. Both an inspiring intellectual history and a critique of present power relations, this book suggests that, with democracy under siege across the globe, the black utopian tradition may be our best hope for combating injustice. (shrink)
Sergei Eisenstein’s 110th anniversary celebrated in 2008 calls for a re-assessment of his overall heritage, which until now has been customarily perceived in Western film scholarship as - in Annette Michelson’s words - ’indissolubly linked to the project of construction of socialism’ - a view shared from Marie Seton to Jacques Aumont, from Kristin Thompson to Ian Christie and from David Bordwell to Anna Bohn. Not only did Eisenstein’s output magnificently and persuasively outlive this project, but from our vantage point (...) at the beginning of the twenty- first century we can see its position within the complex tapestry of the cultural, philosophical, political and aesthetic developments of the twentieth century from a different angle. Drawing on the recently published in Russia Eisenstein’s magnum opus Method and the author’s research on still unpublished Eisenstein’s writings of the same period, including his diaries, the present paper positions the discussion of Eisenstein’s theory-and-practice between two diametrically opposed philosophical poles - utopia and event. I argue that while Eisenstein’s theoretical writings were encompassed by a number of utopian ideas, which were, nevertheless quite different from the utopian projects of bolshevism, it is his cinematography, which now - in the context of an on-going discussion in continental philosophy - can be defined as ’cinema of event’ that demonstrates the biggest and radical discrepancy between Eisenstein’s work and both ideology and art of socialism - the world of ‘realized utopia.’ . (shrink)
If utopias in the western cultural tradition owe their model of ideal, final, unitary order to the objective basis of metaphysics, have they not, like metaphysics, undergone a dissolution in Heidegger’s sense of Verwindung? Insofar as the very notion of unity, like that of an ultimate metaphysical foundation, now reveals its violence and will to domination and as we are interested instead in thinking utopia as a ‘project for emancipation’, the author suggests replacing the unity that was hitherto characteristic (...) of utopia with a multiplicity that is defended as a value and not as a phase of ‘confusion’ to be overcome. (shrink)
Everyday Utopias explores a topic that is vital but is too often overlooked by utopian scholars. It is best read in tandem with its 2013 predecessor, Weak Messianism: Essays in Everyday Utopianism, by Michael Gardiner. In a nutshell, Cooper, like Gardiner, argues that although utopian visions may be born in the brains of utopian thinkers, progress toward utopia is what counts, and it must be rooted in present patterns and possibilities. Lest my qualms with the book’s execution overwhelm its (...) value for readers, let me emphasize my enthusiastic support of its basic purpose and its promotion of the growing field of practical utopianism, using a strikingly diverse array of cases to stake... (shrink)