Utopia is an idea or a representation of a perfect, ideal, imaginary, fantastic civilization and, above all, unrealizable or parallel to our reality. It would be a perfect society where all people have absolutely everything they need to live fully.
Utopia is not a term that has a use in itself, but some thinkers and authors consider that utopia serves to continue advancing and finding our way in the world, making our way towards that life that we want to have in order to be happy and full.
What is utopia for?
Utopia is a very deep concept that is often used by thinkers, philosophers and politicians. However, many people wonder if, beyond being a simple literary term, utopia has a utility in the real world, if it can serve as an inspiration for it to one day come true.
If we consider the usefulness of a utopia, we can find 4 different uses:
- Evaluative function: this function stands out for the influence of utopia within the study of societies. That is, they serve for people to reflect on the different methods of political and social organization in order to better understand current systems.
- Critical function: just as Thomas More did with his book, utopia serves as a critique of the current political and social organization system. A utopian system can be built to compare how far a perfect organization is from reality.
- Guiding function: one of the most useful uses of utopia is to serve as a common objective or goal, that is, to begin to make changes so that one day society can reach a state similar to a utopia.
- Hopeful function: some utopian systems can serve to give people hope. Trying to make everyone think that a better society is something that can be achieved if everyone has the same purpose.
What is a utopia?
Utopia is a word that some people use very frequently, using it as an argument when discussing how societies should be in a perfect world. However, the word utopia has a greater depth than what many people give it, which is why it is important to know what a utopia actually is.
The simplest way to understand, without many complications, what a utopia is is to return to the etymology and the origin of the word. The term utopia comes from ancient Greek, from the words oú (ou) which means “not” and τόπος (topos), which means “place”, that is to say: no-place , which means that a place that does not exist is represented or that it only exists in people’s imaginations.
However, the first time this term was used as such was in Thomas More’s novel, in which a story was told that took place on a New World island with a peaceful and perfect government, which clearly was a critique of the 16th century model of politics.
Likewise, a utopia can also be a doctrine or a project that is considered suitable but that will be almost impossible to put into practice. Some of the most frequently seen examples: “anarchist utopia” and “communist utopia”, which, although they may seem perfect and very attractive in people’s imaginations, on different occasions have been shown to be an impossible idea to carry finished.
People dream of a perfect society for many centuries and hence the word utopia was born, which serves to represent an organized and perfect society, where no person has to suffer and struggle to achieve a good quality of life. An important detail that must be taken into account is that utopias do not seek immediate change, that is, they do not seek a political system that is applied as such in a contemporary context.
When you theorize utopia, you have the goal of improving the system to the best of your ability. We want to give a shape to the idea based on theoretical points of view, without thinking about the enormous challenge and difficulty of translating said theory or idea into reality. A perfect society can be created in a hypothetical way, but the idea of a perfect society is actually quite ambiguous, since it is something that has changed over the years.
Utopia can also be seen as a way of being optimistic and conceiving how we want the world in which we live to be, being clear that this imaginary world is a utopia that will possibly never happen.
Thanks to the enormous idealistic burden, a utopia can offer a basis on which to design and formulate the different systems of life that could be used in an alternative society, systems that are fairer to all people, more ethical and coherent, therefore This has been done in different areas of people’s lives, speaking of political, social, economic, educational, technological, religious and environmental utopias.
One of the most important books of philosophy is Plato’s Republic , which has a utopian content in which he formulates his ideas and political thoughts on how a society would have to function in order to achieve perfection. Keep in mind that in this book the word utopia was not used as such, since it was invented and used by Thomas More, who took the Greek word as inspiration.
Thomas More’s Utopia Book
Utopia is the name by which Thomas More’s novel is commonly known, in which he invented the term, although its original and official title is “ De optima republicae, doque nova insula Utopia, libellus vere aureus, nec minus salutaris quam festivus ”, which translates as Golden Book, no less healthy than festive, of the best of the Republics and of the New Utopia Island, which was published in 1516.
Thomas More was very impressed with Amárico Vespucio’s extraordinary narratives about the island Fernando de Noronha, which was sighted by his crew in 1503 and considered that this island would be perfect to build a perfect civilization, a utopia.
In More’s thought, utopia was an organized, communal and rational society where people’s houses and goods were owned collectively and not individually, where people could spend their free time dedicating themselves to art and reading, since they would never be sent to war, except in extreme situations; so that society could live with justice, happiness and in full harmony with its interests.
Within More’s idealistic formulation of the utopia, a strong critical message is also sent to the governments of Europe of his time.
What is dystopia?
In short, dystopia is an anti-utopia, that is, the opposite or negative side of what a utopia is. Unlike utopia, where ideal, functional and perfect systems and doctrines of society are idealized, in dystopia a reality is explored where certain methods or approaches to society can be anticipated that lead to unjust, totalitarian and inhuman systems.
George Orwell’s dystopian book, 1984 is considered a jewel of literature.
Conclusion of the meaning of utopia and what it is for
The term was created by Thomas More in 1516, and it represents an idea that has been in the minds of thinkers probably since the beginning of societies. Although at first glance utopia is a term that can only be used in novels and books, its ideology has served to inspire people to achieve political and social changes that can make a difference towards a more just world for all people. that inhabit it.