Ideal Society

1040 words | 4 page(s)

Thousands of people say that the modern society is not even close to being ideal. This is not surprising, since the sins and vices society’s individual members overshadow their best achievements. Drugs, prostitution, violence, and excessive commitment to material values are just some of the problems facing the modern world. Nevertheless, it is wrong to believe that our society cannot be perfect or that it cannot move closer to the ideal proposed by Thomas More. In his work “What Is the Ideal Society?” Thomas More outlines the most important features of an ideal society. In this society, work and pleasure are perfectly balanced. Everyone has a job, specialization, and a specific role. God and the immortal soul, laws that govern pleasures and a simple philosophy of life make up a picture of a perfect world. Our society is very close to that ideal, with a clear division of labor, a combination of work and pleasures, strong religious beliefs, and the variety of physical and thinking pleasures that make our lives more colorful.

An ideal society is impossible without a perfect balance of work and pleasure. In Thomas More’s perfect world, everyone has a job. “Most children are brought up to do the same work as their parents, since they tend to have a natural feeling for it. But if a child fancies some other trade, he’s adopted into a family that practices it” (More 856). In other words, in an ideal society, children are allowed to develop their inner abilities and talents in ways that benefit the community, in which they live. The Utopians spend six hours a day at work, with the rest of the time being devoted to entertainment and household chores. In our society, the work-entertainment balance is very much similar to that in the ideal world. Even though most people spend more than six hours at work, the work-life balance remains one of the most important factors of happiness in our society. Every society member has a specialization, profession, and work. Laziness is not encouraged, being considered as one of the most serious human vices. Everyone is free to obtain a profession or develop a trade based on his (her) abilities, preferences, and talents. Like the Utopians send their children to families that practice a specific trade, our society sends children and adolescents to schools, colleges, and universities, depending on their professional choices. Everyone has free time after a hard day at work. This time is spent on simple pleasures, entertainment, or family affairs. In this context, our society resembles the ideal proposed by Thomas More.

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The work-life balance is not the only feature that makes our society close to an ideal. The Utopians strongly believe in God and the immortal soul. More writes that “we shall be rewarded or punished in the next world for our good or bad behavior in this one. Although these are religious principles, the Utopians find rational grounds for accepting them” (859). These are the principles on which the modern society rests. Almost all modern religions promote the idea of the immortal soul and the rewards or punishments that are awaiting each society member after his (her) death. Certainly, not everyone believes that he will be rewarded for his (her) achievements or punished for his (her) sins after death. Nevertheless, most members of our society have a fear of the unknown, which follows the event of death. Thousands of people go to churches, as they hope they will have a chance to justify their mistakes and sins. Many others pray at home, hoping that the kind God will hear and consider their words, when the decision to send them to heaven or hell is being made.

Every member of our society can create a personal heaven, by engaging in pleasures and enjoyable activities. Pleasures and entertainment remain an essential component of public and private life in the ideal society, as well as our world. “On this principle they think it right to […] obey public laws for regulating the distribution of “goods” – by which I mean the raw materials of pleasure” (More 860). They treat entertainment as an important element of happy living, but they also think of the ways, in which their pleasures impact the community’s wellbeing. In a similar fashion, our society tries its best to make entertainment and pleasures work for the benefit of every individual. Such laws are adopted and implemented in our society. We place certain legal limitations on the pleasures that are considered as immoral. For instance, all kinds of drugs are legally prohibited. The same goes for prostitution. At the same time, certain types of pleasures are regulated by the state. For example, gambling and lotteries are subject to heavy taxes, so that every society member thinks twice before participating in any of these entertainment activities. The goal of these regulations and laws is to promote morality in our society, while motivating every society member to work rather than gamble. Unfortunately, thousands of people are willing to pay huge taxes rather than refuse from an opportunity to win another thousand of dollars in a casino. Nevertheless, these laws and regulations help to maintain our society in a moral and legal order.

In conclusion, our society has accomplished quite a lot in its movement towards the ideal proposed by Thomas More. The work-life balance remains one of the defining features of the modern society, in which everyone works hard to have some free time for entertainment. God and religion govern individual and collective activities and everyday decisions. Thousands of people believe that their souls are immortal, while thousands of others are confident that they will face rewards and punishments for their achievements and vices, after they die. Like the Utopians, members of the modern society obey regulations and laws in their pursuit of entertainment and pleasures. Many entertainment activities are outlawed, while others are subject to taxation and state control. It is possible to say that these laws and regulations create an atmosphere of legal and moral order in our society. As such, our society has many features of the ideal world outlined in Thomas More’s work.

  • More, Thomas. “What Is the Ideal Society?” Current Issues and Enduring Questions. Eds. Sylvan Barnet and Hugo Bedau. 856-868. Print.

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