Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Sir Thomas More and Utopia

During the recent 'history in the context of journalism' lecture, Brian touched upon Sir Thomas More and his views on 'the ideal', Utopia. Utopia was an imaginary island of which More projected his views on how society should be, that of a strict communal nation.

More followed the Catholic Church and was seriously opposed to the Protestant ideals, however, he does not directly portray this in Utopia as he allows different religous practices. Even though this is the case he does display his hatred for aethism, in that anybody who displays this would be severely punished.

Bertrand Russell's 'History of Western Philosophy', describes More's Utopia as 'intolerably dull', and quite frankly I would have to agree. The fact that More sees his ideal world where everybody wears the same clothes day in, day out, take part in the same activities and never get a chance to get more out of their life is unbelievably boring. This communist island that More portrays may seem dull to somebody who has lived, and become a custom to the capitalist lifestyle, on the other hand somebody who had communist ideals would greatly accept this island as 'perfect'.

Even though I might not agree with More's Utopia, More has been an influential person in my life personally. For the last seven years I attended Thomas More Catholic School, and during this time I learned a lot about the boldness he showed, especially when choosing his religion over his own life. He was a close friend of Henry VIII, and when he refused to sign the Act of Supremacy in 1534, because it made a mockery of what he believed in, he was imprisoned and beheaded for treason against the King.

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  1. Hello Dael

    A wonderful overview of Utopia.

    I must say that I was surprised to learn that this imaginary place was the work of Thomas More! I had always admired More for the way that he stood up against King Henry VIII who wanted to divorce Catherine of Aregon to marry Anne Boleyn. The fact that More resigned from his office and then never attended the wedding was his way of showing the king that he did not agree with what he was doing. King Henry VIII was upset for he and More where actually friends and up until the time More had won great favout with Henry.

    Ofcourse, as you mention, the real act of More's courage was when he refused to sign the Act of Supremecy knowing that he would be accused of high treason. This is a story of a man who had great courage to follow what he believed to be true.

    Utopia however, sounds like a terribly boring place and inconruent with More's own life which went against the norm of society.