THOMAS MORE'S COSMOPOLITAN CIVIL SCIENCE: THE NEW WORLD AND UTOPIA RECONSIDERED

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Abstract:

This article argues that Thomas More's creative appropriation in Utopia (1516) of the New World narrative enabled him to sketch out a cosmopolitan civil science for the purpose of sparking sentiments for a new ethics. Placing More's classic in a wider and more detailed context the article shows that the book's protagonists' anthropological approach to civil scientific study in turn has three important characteristics, all of which set it apart from conventional social knowledge: it is (1) empirical or experiential, (2) comparative and (3) cosmopolitan. The article thus offers a new interpretation of the relationship between Utopia and the New World as one that stresses the value of social experimentation, an aspect that is elaborated by emphasizing the theme of social knowledge both in the many vernacular European editions of the work as well as in the account of Utopian social life.

Keywords: Hythloday; NewWorld; Renaissance political thought; Thomas More; Utopia; civil science; comparative political philosophy; cosmopolitanism; global

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2012

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