Of the Traveling of the Utopians Notes from Utopia

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Utopia Of the Traveling of the Utopians

When people want to travel outside the city, they obtain a 'passport' from the Prince, which tells where they are allowed to travel, and until when. They are given a wagon and slave as transportation, and carry no provisions, as they are treated as if they were at home wherever they may be. However, if they decide to stay in one place for more than a night, they have to practice their trade, thus making themselves useful to the nation. Likewise, if people wish to travel within their town and visit the country, they have to join in the country labor. If a person is found traveling without a passport more than once, they are condemned to slavery.

Topic Tracking: Values 4

At the annual meeting in Amaurot, the counselors examine what each city needs in supply and what other cities have in surplus and give and take (for free) what is available in order to stock up each city for two years. Any surplus, such as corn, honey, flax, wool or cattle, is exported. A seventh of the exports are given to the poor in the importing countries, and the rest are sold for moderate prices. The money raised is used for imports. Any excess money is stored in gold or silver in the country's treasury and saved for times of war. This is necessary because the Utopians prefer to hire a foreign army, which they pay well, than to have their own people fight. For this reason, they have a very large treasury.

Topic Tracking: Money 6

This money does not, however, mean anything to them, as they do not think of gold or silver as valuable metals. This is because the Utopians value things according to their usefulness, and gold and silver are not very useful. In order to make sure of this, the law requires that chamber pots and close-stools be made of gold or silver, and that these metals should be used for nothing else other than jewelry for slaves, thus decreasing its appeal.

An example of clashing customs occurred when the Anemolians, one of Utopia's further neighbors, sent their ambassadors to Utopia. Because they were not as close to Utopia as other countries, they were not aware of their customs, and had heard that the Utopians did not wear fine clothes or gold. Wanting to appear superior, they wore their finest clothes (some of which were gold in color) and much jewelry. When they arrived in Utopia, all the children were laughing at them (since gold and pearls were their toys), and the Utopians thought they looked foolish. After staying in the Utopian houses for a day, the ambassadors felt foolish, and realized that the Utopians thought that gold was a useless thing. They thought that this was strange because in their custom, the person who has the most gold has many servants and people to serve him. Also, the more gold a person has, the more respectfully he is treated, even if people know that he is a bad person.

The Utopians' lack of interest in gold comes from their upbringing and education. They are educated in their own language, and are unaware of the great Greek philosophers, yet have made the same discoveries as them with respect to music, logic, arithmetic, and geometry.

"They knew astronomy, and were perfectly acquainted with the motions of the heavenly bodies, and have many instruments, well contrived and divided, by which they very accurately compute the course and positions of the sun, moon, and stars." Traveling, pg. 46

They can also predict the weather, but dispute the causes of the sea's saltiness, the causes of the sea's ebbing and flowing, and of the origins of heaven and earth.

With respect to moral philosophy, many things are disputed; among which are things that are good for both the body and mind, the nature of virtue and pleasure, and the source of man's happiness. The last is their chief concern, and the dispute always includes some religious views, which they deem necessary for happiness.

Topic Tracking: Happiness 4

Their religious principles are:

"that the soul of man is immortal, and that God of His goodness has designed that it should be happy; and that He has therefore appointed rewards for good and virtuous actions, and punishments for vice, to be distributed after this life." Traveling, pg. 47

Topic Tracking: Happiness 5

Although these principles of religion are passed down through tradition, they can also be established through reason, if two assumptions are made: that greater pleasures are sought after more than lesser pleasures, and that no pleasure should be sought if it brings pain. However, happiness can only be found in pleasurable things that are also good and honest. Their definition of virtue is "a living according to Nature, and think that we are made by God for that end." Traveling, pg. 48 The first rule of reason is to love and revere God, and be thankful for all that he has given. Secondly, one should "keep [their] minds free from passion and as cheerful as [they] can." Traveling, pg. 48 In order to support one's pleasures, which a person must seek, a person is inclined to enter society. However, nobody should inconvenience others in order to make himself happy.

Topic Tracking: Happiness 6

From this, laws are established that state that all private agreements must be kept, and all laws must be observed. Laws are to be established by either the ruling of a prince or the consent of the people (the people must not be oppressed):

"They think it an evidence of true wisdom for a man to pursue his own advantages, as far as the law allows it. They account it piety to prefer the public good to one's private concerns; but they think it unjust for a man to seek for pleasure, by snatching another man's pleasures from him. And on the contrary, they think it a sign of gentle and good soul, for a man to dispense with his own advantage for the good of others...They are also persuaded that God will make up the loss of these small pleasures, with a vast and endless joy, of which religion easily convinces a good soul." Traveling, pg. 48

The Utopians realize that forbidden objects are ranked among pleasures not because they are truly delightful, but simply because they are forbidden. Furthermore, they think that valuing outward marks of respect is unintelligent, as no true pleasure is gained by these actions. Likewise, no true pleasure is attained from gems and precious stones, although admittedly a false sense of joy may be felt.

As for the pleasure found in hunting, the Utopians believe that there is none. They justify this by saying that if the pleasure is found in seeing the dog run after the hare, then the same pleasure can be found in seeing the dog run after another dog. If the pleasure is found in seeing the dog kill the hare, then this is wrong and should create feeling of pity instead of joy. Thus, hunting consists of pure cruelty, and no pleasure, and should be left to butchers and slaves.

Topic Tracking: Values 3

The Utopians divide pleasure into categories: pleasure of the mind, and pleasures of the body. Bodily pleasure can then be subdivided into two more categories: pleasure that is felt in the senses, which includes listening to music, eating and drinking, and the pleasure of health. This is considered the greatest of all bodily pleasures since it makes life easy and desirable, and since without this one pleasure, no other pleasures can be truly enjoyed. The desire for this pleasure leads to the desire for other pleasures, such as eating and drinking, since these maintain health. However, the most valuable of all pleasures lies in the mind, and it arises out of virtue, and results in good conscience.

The Utopians disagree with the concept of fasting. They also do not approve of laziness or sloth. This is because all of these things weaken a person's body, and reject the pleasures of life, such as eating or health. Thus, people who fit into the above categories are considered ungrateful to the 'Author of Nature'.

Topic Tracking: Values 5

The Utopians love to learn, and are incredible at inventing tools to help them learn. After coming across the first book they had ever seen, and with a brief explanation of how to make paper and print, they slowly but surely conquered the techniques. Prior to paper, they used to write on parchment and the like. They are very hospitable to learned and well-traveled people, as they love to learn new things from them.

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