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Utopia

Utopia is the title of a Latin book by Thomas More (circa 1516).

It is a fictional depiction of a rationally organised society, narrated by an explorer, Raphael Hythlodaeus. Utopia is a republic which holds all property in common. It has no lawyers, and doesn't send its citizen to war, but hires mercenaries among its warprone neighbours. Possibly More, a Church man, was inspired by the monachal rule when he describes the working of his society. It was an inspiration for the Reducciones[?] established by the Jesuits to Christianize and civilize the Guaranis.

The title has since been used as a generic word to describe both works of fiction in which the author's theories of a better way to organise society are dramatised, and actual communities founded in attempts to put such theories into practice.

The word "utopia" is coined from two Greek roots meaning "nowhere" (ou meaning "not" and topos meaning "place"). The prefix u ("not") is similar to eu (at least in English pronunciation), which means "good", so utopia is often misinterpreted to mean "perfect place".

The utopia can be idealistic or practical[?], but the term has acquired a strong connotation of optimistic, idealistic, impossible perfection[?]. The utopia may be usefully contrasted with the undesirable dystopia (anti-utopia, pseudo-utopia) and the satirical utopia[?].

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Economic Socialist and communist utopias generally revolve around a more equitable distribution of goods, frequently with the total abolition of money, and citizens only doing work which they enjoy, leaving them with ample time for the cultivation of the arts and sciences.

Political and historical A global utopia of world peace is often seen as one of the possible inevitable endings of history.

Religious The Christian and Islamic ideas of heaven tend to be utopian, especially in their folk-religious forms: inviting speculation about existence free of sin and poverty or any sorrow, beyond the power of death (although "heaven" in Christian eschatology at least, is more nearly equivalent to life within God Himself, visualized as an earth-like paradise in the sky). In a similar sense, a Buddhist concept of Nirvana may be thought of as a kind of utopia. Religious utopias, perhaps expansively described as a garden of delights, existence free of worry amid streets paved with gold, in a bliss of enlightenment enjoying nearly godlike powers, are often a reason for perceiving benefit in remaining faithful to a religion, and an incentive for converting new members.

See also: End of the world, Eschatology, Millennialism, Utopianism

Scientific and technological These are set in the far future, when advanced science and technology will allow utopian living standards; for example, the absence of death and suffering; changes in human nature and the human condition.

See also: transhumanism, technological singularity

Opposing this optimism[?] is the prediction that advanced science and technology will, through deliberate misuse or accident, cause humanity's extinction. These pessimists[?] advocate precautions over embracement.

Examples Warning: Wikipedia contains spoilers

See also cacotopia, Utopia Planitia[?], utopic socialism[?].

Note: The article Utopian/Dystopian Fiction is a old placekeeper with notes on various books and should be refactored into the Utopia and Dystopia articles.

External links

Related Utopia is the name of a US progressive rock group, generally fronted by singer/musician/producer Todd Rundgren.



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