What Is Utopia?

There will not be one kind of community existing and one kind of life led in utopia. Utopia will consist of utopias, of many different and divergent communities in which people lead different kinds of lives under different institutions. Some kinds of communities will be more attractive to most than others; communities will wax and wane. People will leave some for others or spend their whole lives in one. Utopia is a framework for utopias, a place where people are at liberty to join together voluntarily to pursue and attempt to realize their own vision of the good life in the ideal community but where no one can impose his own utopian vision upon others.

- Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State, and Utopia, Ch. 10

Podcast of the Day

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the concept of Utopia. Both the idea of, and the longing for a perfect society have been in our imagination for centuries, even millennia. Utopian dreams have driven fantasy, Fascism and fine feeling. Utopias, by definition, do not exist. The literal meaning of the Greek is “nowhere”. And yet, we are still enthralled by its allure. Why do some of us still believe in it - after the devastation wreaked this century by the utopian ideals that gave rise to Fascism and Communism? And what do utopias in fiction tell about the present - and even future?

Listen to the In Our Time episode on Utopia

Video of the Day

Short Article of the Day

The term “utopia” was coined 500 years ago. By conjoining the Greek adverb “ou” (“not”) and the noun “topos” (“place”) the English humanist and politician Thomas More conceived of a place that is not — literally a “nowhere” or “noplace.” More’s learned readers would also have recognized another pun. The pronunciation of “utopia” can just as well be associated with “eu-topia,” which in Greek means “happy place.” Happiness, More might have suggested, is something we can only imagine. And yet imagining it, as philosophers, artists and politicians have done ever since, is far from pointless...

Continue reading Espen Hammer's article: A Utopia for a Dystopian Age

Further Reading

A utopia (/juːˈtpiə/ yoo-TOH-pee-ə) is an imagined community or society that possesses highly desirable or nearly perfect qualities for its citizens. An example is heaven. The opposite of a utopia is a dystopia. One could also say that utopia is a perfect "place" that has been designed so there are no problems.

Utopian ideals often place emphasis on egalitarian principles of equality in economics, government and justice, though by no means exclusively, with the method and structure of proposed implementation varying based on ideology. According to Lyman Tower Sargent "there are socialist, capitalist, monarchical, democratic, anarchist, ecological, feminist, patriarchal, egalitarian, hierarchical, racist, left-wing, right-wing, reformist, Naturists/Nude Christians, free love, nuclear family, extended family, gay, lesbian, and many more utopias"...

Continue reading the Wikipedia article on Utopia

Related Topics

If you’re interested in the idea of utopia, check out some of the following related topics for more resources:

 Civilization | FreedomJusticePeacePolitical Philosophy | Thought Experiments

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