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Poetry and Politics in the English RenaissanceRevised Edition$
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David Norbrook

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780199247189

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199247189.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 03 March 2021

The Utopia and Radical Humanism

The Utopia and Radical Humanism

(p.16) 1. The Utopia and Radical Humanism
Poetry and Politics in the English Renaissance

David Norbrook

Oxford University Press

In the second book of Sir Thomas More's Utopia, Raphael Hythlodaeus enthusiastically describes life in a communist republic in which there is no money and private property, where all political and religious offices are elective and there is no hereditary aristocracy, where meals are eaten in common and labour is communal, where luxury and idleness are unknown. More's persona in the dialogue listens to the description of an utopia politely but sceptically. The constitution of an utopia certainly contradicts the common sense of More's age. The utopia tolerates many religions and subsidises priests, but there is no one state religion: the state's basis is essentially secular, and great value is attached to participation in public life, which is the right of every male citizen. The utopians' assumptions about public life were not, however, widely shared in 16th-century England. The concepts of ‘politics’ as an autonomous area of activity; and of political philosophy as distinct from moral philosophy, scarcely existed.

Keywords:   Thomas More, Utopia, Raphael Hythlodaeus, communist republic, secular, England, politics, moral philosophy

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