Table of contents
- The general point of view on Utopia
- Of their education and religion in a Utopia
Thomas More’s Utopia is one of the important elements in Europe society, especially in England. Sir Thomas More was an English lawyer, writer, and statesman. He wrote the famous first formal Utopia. He imagined a complex, self-contained world set on an island, in which communities shared a common culture and way of life. Thomas More was a noted Renaissance humanist. In Thomas More’s Utopia, education and religion are consists in Utopian social life. The ideas of Thomas More have influenced many people through the ages, so I want to state remarkable elements of Thomas More’s Utopia. As to me, these remarkable elements are education and religion. Both education and religion are part of the social situation in Utopia. Education in Thomas More’s Utopia seems to be catered to a larger goal, which is to create virtuous persons and citizens, as they are responsible for attaining a flourishing human community.
On the other hand, “more advocated religious freedom in 'Utopia' to promote civic peace in Christendom and to help unify his fractious Catholic Church in the field of Utopia’s religion. Utopus’s most important argument for religious freedom is that it promotes civic peace.” (Kessler, 2002). If I need to open this description more, this can be one most distinctive features of Utopian society is its religious freedom. More generate the ideal thoughts for religious freedom and Utopian society. Besides all these, in this book; during his travels, Thomas More meets many philosophers and he makes long conversations with the philosophers. These talks about how an ideal country should be, refer to as a country called Utopia. This island consists of fifty-four cities, one language is spoken, there is no class distinction, no one interferes with his religion, and never wages war on other countries. That’s why Utopia describes imaginary ideal states. At that time, Britain’s social situation has an impact on Thomas More’s Utopia. Thomas More reflects the own imaginative some of the ideas in Utopia. “Certainly, Utopia is a work of ideas. But what gives it is rich complexity, its fascination for ages since More and for today, is its indirect, imaginative presentation of these ideas” (Sanderlin, 1950:12). In addition to these, the significance of education and religion is clear in Thomas More’s Utopia and it handled on great role these remarkable elements. According to More, an ideal society requires some of the aims like education and religion which are fundamental tools in Utopia.
It is actually, all these aims deal with how an ideal country about religion and education should be, this research handles imaginary societies that are closer to perfection.
The general point of view on Utopia
The word “utopia” derives from the Greek words “eutopia” meaning a good place or meaning no place. Thomas More is the creator of the work, Utopia. More’s Utopia is a complex, innovative and penetrating contribution to political thought, culminating in the famous ‘description’ of the Utopians, who live according to the principles of natural law but are receptive to Christian teachings, who hold all possessions in common and view gold as worthless. Furthermore, the work, Utopia is a reaction to the emerging individualism of the sixteenth century. The inequalities of private property threats to order caused by pride and greed seemed to be basic problems.
The book consists of two sections and More created a new generation in literature with a man-made Utopia. He described the ideal political system of an island nation. “The Utopia is the work of More's imagination in the sense that he has constructed a 'perfect society' from Hythloday's point of view: the point of view of someone animated by a sense of anger and resentment at the imperfect justice of current regimes, who follows a modern, theoretical approach to political justice.” (Engeman, 1982). As he said, the theoretical approach represents More’s imagination work.
If we mention about a few issues except for education and religion in Utopia. The administration of the state of Utopia is based on democratic order. Every year most of the family select a manager with a secret vote. A congress of the city presidents meets every day to review the country’s situation and make decisions. The senate of Utopia can bring a new decision every day to solve the country’s problems. There are very few laws in Utopia; because members of this community are both improperly trained and have no private property, so there is no need for lawsuits and laws that attempt to determine what is their property. Also, there is no lawyer in the courts because everyone’s self-defense is more accurate. Utopian justice is not just that. Although utopias are perfectly trained, they are all slaves if they committed a crime. In 16th century England, even the mischievous men who steal a morsel of bread are hanging, and capital punishment is rarely practiced in Utopia. When the Utopian community committed an offense, the misdemeanant be slave, but a slave is useful to society, and he sets an example for others so that he cannot commit the same crime. That’s why, if a slave regret about own commit, he gets out of slavery or on to the request of the people, the guilty person can be freed from slavery.
While the most woman, nobles, affluent classes, landholders, clergymen, and the upper class were gad about around in 16th century England, the utopians had to work unless they have health problems whether they are men or women. In this way, force is not essential in Utopia. Apart from working hours, the utopians are free to do what their souls want. Because the utopians are very important for education and like chess, they play games based on wisdom. The main occupations of utopians are to read books and improve their knowledge and their minds. In addition to these, the greatest innovations of the utopians in the field of education that they do not want to end their education at a certain age. That is, they want drives about knowledge lifetime. According to Karl Kautsky “One the most important goals of our time socialism was realized by saving Thomas More, science and art in the group, and making the whole people the common property.” (Eyüboğlu, 2016). That is, the aim of Thomas More is to be socialist about almost every subject. We can understand that the Utopians against the war so it can relate to religious in Utopia. When King Utopus stepped to island, he made some works about religion freedom.
Religion freedom for the human faiths and religion clears up the societies. All human is free in about subject. Religion completely supports humanism in Utopia but in England, this is not the same.
Of their education and religion in a Utopia
Firstly, if I need to make a few explanations about the education in Utopia, more’s education system attracts attention. Particularly important is that there is no title under the name of education in Utopia. One of the primary objectives of education in Utopia is both intellectual enlightenment as well as to give a deep understanding of virtue and in turn instill a virtuous character in individuals. Education in Utopia places enormous importance on virtue and moral values which they believe will control the behavior of its citizens within the social structure. This is an education remarked both through state institutions as well as through personal experiences of individuals during their lifetime. In this ideal state, teaching trade is an essential subject since it has paramount importance for the individual to strengthen character which in turn will help the individual avoid committing a sin and living a life of inactivity. More tries to improve moral maturity by motivating the individual to work. Thomas More’s Utopia give a great importance on education. Raphael Hythloday explains the reason why Utopians live in virtue and happily. The utopians society connect education and religion which they have.
The goal of education in Utopia is to prevent undesirable behaviors while teaching desired behaviors. The way to achieve this goal is to eliminate the factors causing the unwanted behaviors. At the time More wrote Utopia, England was struggling with unemployment, hunger, theft and hangings do to theft. More, as an individual living among these problems, had the opinion that the laws issued and applied by the state were both unfair and useless. ‘On this matter you, along with much of the world, seem like bad teachers who prefer beating their students to really teaching them. They set up heavy, terrible punishments when they should work at providing ways of making a living so that nobody has to steal and then die for it.’ (More, 1989:20).
The aim of education is a process that starts with the birth of a person and continuous till the death and education should be in everywhere. In addition to these, in Utopia education is given importance and utopians are the people who are well-educated.
On the other side, if I need to touch on religion in Thomas More’s Utopia, one of the most distinctive features of a utopian society is its religious freedom. More’s account of religious freedom in Utopia is a deep and original contribution to Western political thought. He designed Utopian religious freedom to serve in some sense as a model for Europe. We can see Utopian religious freedom as an important precursor of later liberal efforts to manage church-state relations. “There be divers kinds of religion not only in sundry parts of the island but also in divers places of every city. Some worship for God the sun; some the moon; some other of the planets.” (More, 1997:114). In this way, there are various religions that are not despised in Utopia. But, most of utopian believe God that it is only created the world. God is called ‘Mithra’ in Utopia. This one God is identified with nature in the eyes of the Utopians and it became sovereign in the world. Besides this, the aim of the Utopians is to be happy and look for virtue and pleasure. The Utopians tend to think whether favor is something unique to the soul. They discourse virtue and the nature of pleasure which one of the subjects in their mind. But their main concern is the happiness of human being and the source of it, whether it is one thing or a lot of things. It is interesting that the Utopians think about blessing virtue which is connected to arguments of religion. According to them, the concepts of happiness should approach with the principles of both logic and religion. That is, the Utopians believe that the resource of happiness related with religion. “For Utopians, virtue is nothing more than nature with harmonious life. thus, they say that the only way to be virtuous is to live and to think according to nature. The mind does not blindly adhere to the doctrine of any previously established religion.” (Urgan, 1964:185).
At the same time, Thomas More procured the government to interdicted politically dangerous forms of religion and to all Utopians had to subscribe to certain religious doctrines that promoted virtue. It was therefore a limited type of religious freedom which made Utopia a theologically diverse, but morally unified society wholly free of religiously inspired violence. When the chips are down the Utopians think there is one Supreme Being that made and governs the world, whom they call, in the language of their country, Mithras. “They differ in this: that one thinks the god whom he worships is this Supreme Being, and another thinks that his idol is that god: but they all agree in one principle, that whoever is this Supreme Being, he is also that great essence to whose glory and majesty all honors are ascribed by the consent of all nations.” (More, 2018,101-102). The Utopians can design their Supreme Being freely so there is not pictures and sculpture about god in the temple. Contrary to all nation of world the Utopians fasten on their unifying sides, not on the divisive sides of religion. Since the common purpose of each religion is to glorify a divine being, the Utopia temples express the love for this divine being, so that people of different religions unite. At the end of the ceremony, a prayer in which everyone can participate, regardless of personal religion, is praised and thankful to God.
Although utopia has been a versatile and deep term, this term finds meaning in Thomas More’s lifestyle. As Thomas More is writing of immortal work Utopia, he believed in what an ideal state should be and how people should live within the frame of the ideal of thoughts. In addition to this, ore is one of the prominent utopian writers who attached great importance to especially education and religion. According to Öztürk (2006:161). More considers education in Utopia to serve a dual purpose. He does not only assume that education encourages and protects the moral character of people and society but also believes that education is an objective in itself for material fulfilment. As I said before education and religion base on the Utopian’s social life. More reflected that religion should be free and connective in immortal work Utopia. More also showed how religious freedom helped promote civic peace, scientific development, and economic prosperity. Especially religious freedom pointed out in the end of the book about Utopian religion. However, more claims that since education is the key to a moral and virtues society a system of reward and punishment helps maintain a crime-free society. As conclusion, it can be said that “Utopia is a story, the free play of a creative writer’s imagination. It is a drama of Thomas More’s mind.” (Sanderlin, 1950:76). Actually, people can read this immortal work and create their own imagination and find their own utopias. This is the purpose of book.
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