The Quest for utopia semuel butler to Bertrand Russell

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This thesis studied the evolution and impact of utopian thought in the English-speaking world from the late nineteenth century up to the present times selecting for consideration texts produced in the late nineteenth century, which coincided with the crisis of capitalism, the first half of the twentieth century, characterised by the crisis of modernity and a general mood of pessimism with regard to the capacity of science or socialism to lead to ―eutopia‖‖, and texts envisioning the reconstruction of a human society, threatened by division, conflicts and ultimately possible extinction, as a global utopia. This ultimate utopia, which would represent the culmination of the Enlightenment project and the temporary materialization of the Liberal Idea, would, unlike the traditional static utopias, remain open to criticism and improvement. The study, which takes its theoretical bearings from the sociology of knowledge and sociolinguistics, considers language use as a form of social action, thinking as tightly conditioned by being; action whereby social subjects / agents mediate their world. Drawing upon the critical concepts and categories elaborated by Karl Mannheim, Paul Ricoeur, Mikhail Bakhtin, Michel Foucault, and Norman Fairclough, I attempt to argue the claim that, as texts, the utopias I studied in their ongoing dialectical intercourse with other texts of the utopian tradition as well as their respective contexts performed critical function which purported to improve the texts through regular revisiting, and society through ongoing criticism, and reconstruction. Hence utopia, as a man-centered Pelagian project, has sought the progressive perfection of man and human society in the present world. In the last resort, utopianism, whether in its textual or practical version, appeared more as a critical companion, a faithful bedfellow to ideology, whose flaws it unveils and which it has helped to improve and vie. Hence, in their quest for utopia, the Authors considered in the present thesis: Samuel Butler, Edward Bellamy, William Morris, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, H.G.Wells, and Bertrand Russell drew upon the utopian tradition, which they reworked creatively, to achieve a balance between individual freedom and happiness on the one hand, with social order and stability, on the other hand. Observed from the perspective of a member of ―the backward races‖, which are integrated as resources and extensions in the Anglo-Saxon Enlightened utopian project, one cannot fail to suspect the difficulty these authors face, as supposed ‗advocates of the interests of the whole‘, to overcome Mannheim‗s paradox and totally emancipate themselves from the outlook of a society in which they are culturally immersed. This ethnocentric attitude can be interpreted as a form of will to power‖ which has recently led to the emergence of a global hegemon. None the less, given the authors‘ audacious ideas on such issues as power, governance, education, demography, ethics and environment, one may say on their behalf that they have been made the reluctant accomplices of a power thirsty ideology which they will not fail to unveil and resist as such.


295f. 30cm. (+ CD -Rom)


Utopia, Dystopia, Samuel Butler, Bertrand Russell


Universite Mouloud Mammeri