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City of RefugeSeparatists and Utopian Town Planning$
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Michael J. Lewis

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780691171814

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691171814.001.0001

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The Protestant Tempering of Utopia

The Protestant Tempering of Utopia

(p.33) 3 The Protestant Tempering of Utopia
City of Refuge

Michael J. Lewis

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines the notion of “Utopia.” It is widely known that Utopia means “no place.” However, few know that it is pronounced just the same as eutopoeia, meaning “good place.” In short, Utopia is that great good place that is nowhere to be found. And with this word, coined exactly five hundred years ago, Thomas More (1478–1535) gave us history's most famous pun. More hardly intended Utopia to be a manifesto for Protestant ideal communities. In writing Utopia, his goal was much the same as that of Plato's Republic, as a speculative philosophical essay as to what a perfectly ordered society should be. Yet there was much in Utopia that Protestants found congenial, including the emphasis on reason over superstition, the utopian practice of electing priests by popular vote, and the absence of all images of God in their temples. The most radical idea in Utopia is that in order to make an ideal city one must also make an ideal society.

Keywords:   Utopia, Utopian town planning, Thomas More, Protestants, ideal society

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