Utopia With Erasmus's: The Silent Alcibiades (Hackett Classics) Info

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Reviews for Utopia With Erasmus's: The Silent Alcibiades (Hackett Classics):

3

Oct 30, 2015

Thomas More's Utopia was published in 1516 in Latin. It describes the ideal society of the fictional island of Utopia:
Book 1: Raphael tells how he's visited many societies around the world, including England. He then recounts some of the injustices he encountered there, including the capital punishment of thieves, a punishment which he feels is too harsh for the crime of theft and doesn't deter future thefts -- instead, it's better to ensure everyone has enough to eat so they won't steal Thomas More's Utopia was published in 1516 in Latin. It describes the ideal society of the fictional island of Utopia:
Book 1: Raphael tells how he's visited many societies around the world, including England. He then recounts some of the injustices he encountered there, including the capital punishment of thieves, a punishment which he feels is too harsh for the crime of theft and doesn't deter future thefts -- instead, it's better to ensure everyone has enough to eat so they won't steal (property should be redistributed and rich should be prevented from monopolizing commodities and control of prices). A better punishment, he says, would be to require the thief to return the item stolen or to make up the value through hard labor or other means. He argues that the institutions of the island of Utopia are the best: they have few laws, and the laws they have govern exceedingly well; everything is shared equally and everyone is prosperous. Wherever you have private property, he says, and when money is the measure of all things, you cannot have a just and prosperous society, because a tiny number of people will always end up sharing the whole lot among themselves while everyone else is left in poverty. Raphael's interlocuteur, Thomas More, replies that he thinks the opposite: you can never have prosperity where all things are held in common because everyone will give up working, "the prospect of turning a profit will not act as an incentive." (p.87) And when the need does arise, noone will be allowed to keep what they've produced, leading to conflict and bloodshed.

In book 2 Raphael goes on to describe the island of Utopia: they only have one fort for defense, because surrounded by water on three sides. It has 54 beautiful, well-organized cities evenly spaced with one common language, culture, institutions, and laws. There are slaves, but everyone takes turns working in the fields. Plus they all have to learn a trade such as spinning or blacksmithing. They share food with each other so noone's every in need. The houses look alike and all have flourishing gardens. There's no private space. All matters are decided openly in the senate so there's no risk of tyrannical rule. Each housing makes its own clothing and the clothes are simple and all similar. Everyone's expected to work hard, but not too hard--6 hours/day; there's plenty of time for leisure and learning. After supper there's an hour for recreation. They eat meals in common in assembly rooms where slaves are responsible for cleaning up. There are perfectly-administered, well-designed public hospitals for the sick. When they gather to eat, young and old mix together, the young respect the elderly, the rulers defer to priests. They have contempt for gold and jewels; gold is a symbol of disgrace and jewels are baubles for children. They study astronomy, philosophy (grounded in religion), believe in the immortality of the soul, define virtue as living according to nature (like stoics). They believe in helping each other (do unto others as you would have others do to you). They gamble but don't hunt. They believe to be happy you must be healthy. They believe studying medicine is extremely beneficial. Euthanasia's practiced. Divorce is rare, though they allow it for adultery or other intolerable behavior. Adultery's punished with slavery. There's no campaigning for public office. They have few laws and people are experts in the laws. They don't make treaties: "Why would a government that has no respect for the natural order of things take mere words to heart?" They avoid war, but men and women both train for war. They hire mercenaries first, then use the troops of country they're trying to defend, and families go into battle together. They're tolerant of all religions, though all believe in a supreme power and creator, Mithra. This is what the focus on in the few temples they have. ...more
2

May 08, 2017

the sileni of alcibiades is actually somewhat interesting, but yeah....
5

Feb 08, 2010

Wow, is all I have to say. I can safely say that that was probably one of the best books I have ever read. What an amazing society Utopians live. Thomas More has many solutions to societys ills figured out. I have heard the argument that Utopia is written about a communist society, but I would call in many ways a Consecrated Society. The Christian principles exemplified in that novel I would call beyond their time. This book just gave amazing insight, I cant say enough about it, but regardless I Wow, is all I have to say. I can safely say that that was probably one of the best books I have ever read. What an amazing society Utopians live. Thomas More has many solutions to society’s ills figured out. I have heard the argument that Utopia is written about a communist society, but I would call in many ways a Consecrated Society. The Christian principles exemplified in that novel I would call beyond their time. This book just gave amazing insight, I can’t say enough about it, but regardless I won't say any more about. I have taken many notes from the book for my personal use and study. I highly recommend this book for anyone and everyone to read. ...more
4

Nov 15, 2014

A very good edition of a fascinating text that straddles the line between fiction and theory, evading both definition and classification. Wooton's introduction is a very good introduction to both More and his text; the inclusion of Erasmus' The Sileni of Alcibiades adds yet another layer to a work that is already miles deep. (Read for a university course.)
4

Apr 20, 2011

The introduction was horrendously tedious to get through. But the body of the document, the actual telling about the Utopian society was quiet interesting. Same goes for 'The Sileni of Alcibiades".

For future readers, I would recommend skipping over the intro and diving right in.
3

Sep 04, 2011

Meh. Not as entertaining as I expected, though it had its moments. If I had to choose between absurdist texts that idealize the New World, I believe I'm partial to Voltaire's Candide (just as frustrating philosophically and morally, but much more entertaining).

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