Lesson / Koan :
Utopia has become a vague term, synonymous almost with the Good Society or the Good Time. It is applied to the dreams and visions of all peoples and all times: from backward-looking myths of the Golden Age to the future prospect of a glorious Millenium, from Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained.
Krishan Kumar’s book ( Utopianism ) argues – utopia should be seen as a much more specific tradition of social and political thought. It has cultural and historical boundaries. It is a Western concept; and it arose in the West as a specific and highly original way of dealing with the novel problems of modern western society. Its themes are the characteristic ones of modern western society. Its themes are the characteristic ones of modern western social thought: power, inequality, democracy, science. But, as a form of imaginative fiction, its treatment of these themes is distinctive and compelling.
From its first appearance in the Utopia of Thomas More in 1516, utopia has undergone numerous changes of focus and concern. But its form has remained remarkably resilent. As we appproach the second decade of the second millennium, there are clear signs – that utopia has by no means exhausted its power either as a tool of critical analysis or as a constructive vision of future possibilities.
Krishan Kumar is a University Professor, as well as William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Sociology at the University of Virginia, and Sociology Department Chair. He was previously Professor of Social and Political Thought at the University of Kent at Canterbury, England. He received his undergraduate education at the University of Cambridge and his postgraduate education at the London School of Economics.