On the very notion of utopia

Costica Bradatan


In this paper I seek to explore the possibility of a meaningful relationship between Thomas More’s Weltanschauung, personality and background, on the one hand, and the formation of the concept of utopia, on the other. In some important respects, ultimate make-up of Utopia reflects several convergent aspects of More’s complex personality: his admiration for St. Augustine, whose De Civitate Dei was one of More’s favorite books and traces of which can be found in Utopia; his being a man of the Renaissance and inhabiting the same intellectual world as that inhabited by Pico della Mirandola, Marsilio Ficino, Erasmus of Rotterdam and others; probably deriving from that, his propensity toward re-creation and re-shaping the existing order of things, from a personal level (as self-reformation) to a much higher level (as cosmopoiesis, to use Giuseppe Mazzotta’s term); the mysterious nature of the whole utopian project, along with the somehow ironical tone in which the book is written. These – and other – aspects make More’s Utopia not only a remarkably rich and complex work of literature, but also, in some oblique way, the testimony of an outstanding effort of self-configuration through writing.

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