Utopias: A Brief History from Ancient Writings to Virtual Communities (Wiley Blackwell Brief Histories of Religion)

Utopias: A Brief History from Ancient Writings to Virtual Communities (Wiley Blackwell Brief Histories of Religion)

By: Howard P. Segal (author)Paperback

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This brief history connects the past and present of utopian thought, from the first utopias in ancient Greece, right up to present day visions of cyberspace communities and paradise. * Explores the purpose of utopias, what they reveal about the societies who conceive them, and how utopias have changed over the centuries * Unique in including both non-Western and Western visions of utopia * Explores the many forms utopias have taken prophecies and oratory, writings, political movements, world's fairs, physical communities and also discusses high-tech and cyberspace visions for the first time * The first book to analyze the implicitly utopian dimensions of reform crusades like Technocracy of the 1930s and Modernization Theory of the 1950s, and the laptop classroom initiatives of recent years

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About Author

Howard P. Segal is Bird Professor of History at the University of Maine, where he has taught since 1986. He received his M.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton University. His previous books include Technological Utopianism in American Culture (1985) , Future Imperfect: The Mixed Blessings of Technology in America (1994), Technology in America: A Brief History (1989, 1999, with Alan Marcus), and Recasting the Machine Age: Henry Ford's Village Industries (2005). He also reviews for, among other publications, Nature and the Times Higher Education.


Preface xi Introduction 1 1 The Nature of Utopias 5 Utopias Defined 5 Utopias Differ from both Millenarian Movements and Science Fiction 8 Utopias' Spiritual Qualities are Akin to those of Formal Religions 9 Utopias'Real Goal: Not Prediction of the Future but Improvement of the Present 12 How and When Utopias are Expected to be Established 13 2 The Variety of Utopias 16 The Global Nature of Utopias: Utopias are Predominantly but not Exclusively Western 16 The Several Genres of Utopianism: Prophecies and Oratory, Political Movements, Communities, Writings, World's Fairs, Cyberspace 24 3 The European Utopias and Utopians and Their Critics 47 The Pioneering European Visionaries and Their Basic Beliefs: Plato's Republic and More's Utopia 47 Forging the Connections Between Science, Technology, and Utopia 50 The Pansophists 53 The Prophets of Progress: Condorcet, Saint-Simon, and Comte 55 Dissenters from the Ideology of Unadulterated Scientific and Technological Progress: Thomas Carlyle, John Ruskin, and William Morris 58 The Expansive Visions of Robert Owen and Charles Fourier 60 The "Scientific"Socialism of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels 66 4 The American Utopias and Utopians and Their Critics 74 America as Utopia: Potential and Fulfillment 74 The Pioneering American Visionaries and their Basic Beliefs in America as Land of Opportunity: John Adolphus Etzler, Thomas Ewbank, and Mary Griffith 78 America as "Second Creation": Enthusiasm and Disillusionment 81 5 Growing Expectations of Realizing Utopia in the United States and Europe 89 Later American Technological Utopians: John Macnie Through Harold Loeb 89 Utopia Within Sight: The American Technocracy Crusade 96 Utopia Within Reach: "The Best and the Brightest" Post-World War II Science and Technology Policy in the United States and Western Europe and the Triumph of the Social Sciences 99 On Misreading Frankenstein: How Scientific and Technological Advances have Changed Traditional Criticisms of Utopianism in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries 123 6 Utopia Reconsidered 139 The Growing Retreat from Space Exploration and Other Megaprojects 139 Nuclear Power: Its Rise, Fall, and Possible Revival Maine Yankee as a Case Study 142 The Declining Belief in Inventors, Engineers, and Scientists as Heroes; in Experts as Unbiased; and in Science and Technology as Social Panaceas 157 Contemporary Prophets for Profit: The Rise and Partial Fall of Professional Forecasters 160 Post-colonial Critiques of Western Science and Technology as Measures of "Progress"169 7 The Resurgence of Utopianism 186 The Major Contemporary Utopians and Their Basic Beliefs 186 Social Media: Utopia at One's Fingertips 193 Recent and Contemporary Utopian Communities 194 The Star Trek Empire: Science Fiction Becomes Less Escapist 199 Edutopia: George Lucas and Others 203 The Fate of Books and Newspapers: Utopian and Dystopian Aspirations 217 8 The Future of Utopias and Utopianism 234 The "Scientific and Technological Plateau"and the Redefinition of Progress 234 Conclusion: Why Utopia Still Matters Today and Tomorrow 241 Further Reading 261 Index 269

Product Details

  • publication date: 20/04/2012
  • ISBN13: 9781405183284
  • Format: Paperback
  • Number Of Pages: 304
  • ID: 9781405183284
  • weight: 336
  • ISBN10: 1405183284

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