Sunday, March 07, 2010

Question from Sara - Quote from "Utopia"

I have a question about a quote from Thomas More's Utopia. He says: “For this is one of the ancientest laws among them, that no man should be blamed for reasoning in the maintenance of his own religion.”

I'm a little confused about what this quote is saying. Is he advocating a kind of religious tolerance in this quote? Also, I believe there is some question about whether Utopia is some kind of parody, or if it is really More's beliefs in what society should be (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong)? More doesn't seem like the type who would call for religious tolerance, unless it was because he had already sensed a threat to the Catholic Church?

Any insight you can give me on this topic is much appreciated!

4 comments:

Taryn said...

I'm not an expert at all, but that quote seems to me like he's saying that a man cannot be persecuted for how he chooses to practice his religion. So like... if a man is a Catholic but likes to cry in church, that's okay. Or if he shows no emotion, that's okay too. I don't think he's promoting inter-religious tolerance, I think he's promoting intra-religious tolerance.

entspinster said...

"Utopia" is the original example of a form of satire that mocks society by portraying an imagined world where real problems have been "fixed", often rather absurdly. In Utopia couples who plan on marrying are required to see each other naked (but chaperoned). This reflects 1) the problem of marriages where a couple legally bound for life might find out too late that ignorance about the partner has lead to major unhappiness. 2) the use of fashion to appear more desirable than one really is. So you can't really tell if Utopian practices are what More thought would be a good idea. You can assume, however, that he disaproves of the real problems that the Utopians avoid by doing things differently.

Anonymous said...

I recommend you read R. W. Chamber's Thomas More for an excellent overview

stephen said...

Entspinster said:

"In Utopia couples who plan on marrying are required to see each other naked (but chaperoned)."

Recently I read something relevant to that in a review of a More biography: when his daughters were in their teens, he took a suitor to their bedroom when they were sleeping, removed the bedcover and lifted up their nightgowns so the suitor could see them naked. The suitor chose the one he found most attractive.

Haven't read the biog, so I don't know if that point in Utopia is brought in. Maybe the story is based on the point in Utopia.