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Utopia

Sir Thomas More

Education, Science, Philosophy

Occupations, Workload, and Productivity

Education, Science, Philosophy, page 2

page 1 of 2

Summary

Though, as has been mentioned earlier, only certain accomplished people are allowed to give up manual labor for intellectual studies, every Utopian child receives a thorough education. The Utopians believe that it is through education that the values and dispositions of citizens are molded. The success of the Utopian educational system is evident in the fact that while most Utopians are engaged in manual labor as a career, in their free time Utopians choose to follow intellectual pursuits. Utopians conduct all of their studies in their native language.

In science the Utopians are rational and accomplished. They have the same general level of understanding as Europeans in the fields of music, logic, arithmetic, and geometry. They are adept at astronomy and no one believes in astrology. They are able to predict changes in weather, though, like the Europeans, the underlying causes of these changes remain at the moment beyond their grasp.

In philosophy, the Utopians are uninterested in the abstract suppositions that are the rage in Europe and which Hythloday finds empty. The foremost topic of Utopian philosophy is the nature of happiness, and the relation of happiness to pleasure. In such matters they ground their reason in religion, believing reason alone is ill equipped to handle such an investigation.

Utopians believe the soul is immortal and that there exists an afterlife in which the deeds of life are rewarded or punished. They further believe that if people were skeptical of an afterlife, all intelligent people would pursue physical pleasure and ignore all higher moral laws. Belief in an afterlife means that pleasure exists only in acts of virtue, because it is these acts that will ultimately be rewarded.

Utopians make a distinction between true and counterfeit pleasure. True pleasure involves any movement of body or mind in which a person takes a natural delight, such as reflecting on true knowledge, eating well, or exercising. Counterfeit pleasures are those sensations that are not naturally delightful, but that distorted desires have tricked people into believing they pleasurable. Examples of such counterfeit pleasures are pride in appearance, wealth, or honorific titles. Pursuit of these counterfeit pleasures often interfere with pursuit of true pleasures, and so Utopians do everything in their power to root counterfeit pleasures out of their society.

Utopians believe that their understanding of the relationship between pain and pleasure is the height of reason. The only possible way to gain a deeper understanding, they hold, would be if God were to send some religion down from heaven to "inspire more sacred convictions."

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