Greg and Mike discuss two utopian texts—Thomas More’s Utopia and Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis—to think about how envisioning alternative societies casts light both on possibilities for other worlds, and changes the way we view our own. In particular, both texts envision the commons, or a common wealth, in ways still relevant for our society today. Greg and Mike also touch on the question of education, as currently embodied in institutions, and the kinds of education we need going forward.
Greg and Mike discuss the utopian ideas of Plato’s Republic, challenging the commonly held notion that he was speaking primarily about morality and instead reading him as a social theorist. Then, building off the centrality of education in Plato’s utopia, they start to imagine what education in a fairer society than our own might look like.
Greg and Mike continue the discussion of political utopias by explaining how concepts of human nature—the idea that human potential is limited by certain fixed properties, whatever they may be—limits political thinking both in the past and present. Then, Greg and Mike debate how limitlessly we should be thinking of our political potential—if there is a balance to be struck between who we are and who we could be.
Greg and Mike think about thinking—exploring why it is we are afraid of thinking about utopias, what actually constitutes ‘utopian’ thinking, and what blocks us from imagining more just, more equal political horizons.