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The New Republic

A Commentary on Book I of More’s Utopia Showing Its Relation to Plato’s Republic

Colin Starnes

Publication Year: 1990

Colin Starnes radical interpretation of the long-recognized affinity of Thomas More’s Utopia and Plato’s Republic confirms the intrinsic links between the two works. Through commentary on More’s own introduction to Book I, the author shows the Republic is everywhere present as the model of the “best commonwealth,” which More must first discredit as the root cause of the dreadful evils in the collapsing political situation of sixteenth-century Europe. Starnes demonstrates how More, once having shorn the Republic of what was applicable to a society that had for a thousand years accepted and been moved by the Christian revelation, then “Christianized” it to arrive at one of the earliest and most coherent accounts of the ideal modern state: the description of Utopia in Book II.

Knowing this radically new view of a long-recognized position may be questioned, the author has included a criticism and appreciation of the other major lines of interpretation concerning More’s Utopia.

Published by: Wilfrid Laurier University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. iii-

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Author's Note

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pp. v-

Unless otherwise indicated, all references to Utopia and its accompanying letters, etc. are the page/line references from Volume 4 of The Complete Works of St. Thomas More, edited by Edward Surtz, S.J. and J. H. Hexter, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1965 (hereafter Yale). ...

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Preface

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pp. vii-xiii

This little book began in some lectures on the Utopia which I was giving to first-year students in the Foundation Year Programme at the University of King's College. The programme had been started as an alternative to the ordinary unstructured selection of five first-year courses which became the norm after ...

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INTRODUCTION

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pp. 1-18

More's Utopia is a very strange book for the twentieth-century reader. Although it is short, clear, vivacious and easily read, one finishes, on the first or the tenth attempt, with the feeling that the work has somehow disintegrated in the reading. It is like one of those wooden puzzles, a segmented ball, ...

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Commentary on Book I of More's Utopia

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pp. 19-30

A number of commentators have noted similarities between the beginning of Utopia and the setting of the Republic. Besides the dialogue form, "which is an obvious Platonic contribution to the Utopia," Surtz notes that "The interlocutors in both the Republic and the Utopia repair to a private residence after a religious ...

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I. More's Criticism of the Platonic Separation of the Classes

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pp. 30-56

Let us now turn to the argument of the Dialogue in Book I beginning at 55/15. In it Raphael, speaking for More the author, aims to show that the two most essential features of the old order are in fact the cause of the problems in contemporary Europe. Both were ultimately derived from the teaching of Plato's Republic. ...

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II. More's Criticism of the Platonic Doctrine of the Philosopher/King

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pp. 56-90

We now turn to Raphael's attack on the second pillar of the Republic in which he opposes the Platonic teaching that "commonwealths will finally be happy only if either philosophers become kings or kings turn to philosophy" (87/12-13; see Republic 473c,d; 499b,c; 501e; etc.). The occasion comes from More's ...

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Conclusion

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pp. 91-108

Our study has shown that More's intention in the first book was to prepare the reader for the radically new solution to Europe's political problems contained in the detailed account of Utopia. He has done this by showing that the two fundamental conditions of a happy commonwealth in Plato's Republic have no practical application ...

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Appendix: On Hexter's Account of More's Visit to Antwerp in 1515

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pp. 109-112

In a letter dated from London, 3 September 1516, More tells that he sent a completed copy of the Utopia to Erasmus in Antwerp, "with a prefatory epistle to my friend Peter'' (Erasmus, Opus Epistolarum, Vol. 2, p. 339). The prefatory epistle begins: "I am almost ashamed, my dear Peter Giles, to send you ...

Bibliography

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pp. 113-118

Index

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pp. 119-122


E-ISBN-13: 9780889205956
Print-ISBN-13: 9780889209787
Print-ISBN-10: 0889209782

Page Count: 136
Publication Year: 1990

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • More, Thomas, Sir, Saint, 1478-1535 -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • More, Thomas, Sir, Saint, 1478-1535. Utopia.
  • Plato -- Influence.
  • Plato. Republic.
  • Plato -- Criticism and interpretation.
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