Study Guide

Utopia Philosophical Viewpoints: Political Philosophy

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Philosophical Viewpoints: Political Philosophy

Who runs the world? Philosophers! Not really, but Hythloday thinks they should—and they kind of do in Utopia. In fact, Hythloday thinks that the political health of Europe is in serious danger if kings without any philosophical know-how continue to run the show. In fact, the question of how to make the ideals of philosophy reconcilable with the realities of politics motivates the long debate of Book 1 of Utopia and is a subtle refrain in Hythloday's depiction of the island. For all their innovative and radical attitudes toward society, power, and religion, it's their devotion to learning and education that keeps the Utopians so on top of things.

Questions About Philosophical Viewpoints: Political Philosophy

  1. How does Hythloday depict the role of philosophy in Utopian politics? Why is, or why isn't, the Utopian model possible in Europe?
  2. What is the fundamental disagreement between More and Hythloday on the role of philosophy in the political world? What specifically does Hythloday object to?
  3. In both the debate in Book 1 and in the description of Utopia, what is the relationship between type of government and philosophy? Is philosophy more or less reconcilable with monarchies, democracies, or neither? 
  4. What characters in the text can we consider philosophers? Why? Are we ever given a definition of what that title means?

Chew on This

Hythloday's point is that politics and philosophy are naturally connected; there's no way you can possibly separate them.

Philosophy can never be political; it has to be able to conceive of an ideal world and never engage in the kind of compromises politics requires.

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