Utopia – a good place
6 March 2017
Exactly a year ago – room full of academics, and it actually took a lawyer to clarify the features of a “good place”: no poverty, because wealth is despised; no (or very rare) serious punishment, because everyone aspires to virtue; no boredom, because everyone works; no ignorance, because everyone seeks wisdom; no war, because everyone behaves rationally and with tolerance.
Thank you, John.
This concept of utopia is missing human connection. Yes, this idea is a pleasant place but it doesn’t speak of how people treat one another. We can’t just assume that virtue, tolerance, and wisdom are the same for everyone. In this society how are people going to treat each other? People all have different opinions and definitions of virtue and their principles and values are all skewed so how can we all ever agree and have this peace. For instance, in a utopia is everyone supposed to be attracted to one another? What happens if that is not the case and there is a disruption of peace?
you’re right to highlight all these differences, but I’m not sure it follows that utopia doesn’t make sense. Unless what you mean is that it’s unrealistic, perfect, or ideal – which is the very definition of utopia. But I have the feeling that you mean something slightly different – something related to a lack of concrete features, something too vague to relate to. If so, it would be an interesting line to explore.
I believe that a utopia is not able to exist. I think that we can get very close to a utopia but there still has to be a tiny bit of bad in order for there to be good. Camus actually tells us this with the story of Sisyphus. He has a terrible punishment, but he has found purpose and joy in pushing the stone. I think that we sometimes cling onto the daydream of a utopia because maybe there is a shift in the scale of good vs. bad and there is too much bad happening at the time so we wish for everything to be good. Ultimately though we need the contrast between good and bad to be able to feel the good. If there were no bad then we would not be able to get joy out of the good since the good would not seem so precious anymore.
Indeed, as "they" say – there is no day without night, or sunshine and clearing up without the rain. But then why is it that, in the middle of the night, the day seems very far away – in other words, when we encounter evil, it is so difficult to remember the good? Do we need more humility – or, on the contrary, should we adopt something resembling Nietzsche’s attitude towards values? The key is to embrace a philosophy that actually makes a difference in practice — for the better, of course.