What conclusions can we come to as regards the purpose behind the writing of Thomas More's Utopia?

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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More's purpose in writing Utopia was to call certain aspects of his society into question by fabricating an ideal society against which it could measured. The fact that he named the book "Utopia," Greek for "no place," demonstrates both that he intended the book to be somewhat satirical in nature, but also to show that he had no illusions that the type of society he described was attainable (or perhaps even desirable). However, as the fictional character Raphael Hythloday says, studying the ways of the Utopians could go a long way toward "correcting the errors of our own cities and kingdoms." So More's book is not necessarily prescriptive: private property, for example, was very unlikely to be banned in Europe as it was in Utopia; working people in More's day were very unlikely to ever be able to spend substantial amounts of time in study; and even the religious tolerance observed among the Utopians would have been almost inconceivable among More contemporaries. But he still hoped to show that many of the institutions that he viewed as oppressive and unreasonable could be altered if people were made aware of how unreasonable they were. Utopia is written, to a great extent, for that purpose. It is a humanist approach to social criticism.

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