Thursday, 14 January 2010

Comparative Utopias

There are three broad ways of thinking comparatively:

Diachronic comparison – ideas develop in a linear fashion over time. Karl Popper rejected the Platonic tradition in part because of his criticism of diachronic historical criticsm.

Synchronic comparison – ideas are to be explained within the context of events and conditions of their own time. See J. C. Davis and Quentin Skinner.

Anachronism – ideas can take on new and possibly unintended meanings in a new context or for a new audience. This is particularly relevant, I believe, to thinking comparatively about Utopias. Later audiences may have misunderstood More’s intentions or empathised with aspects of his work in ways he did not intend – does that matter? (Jameson, Jacoby, Kumar)

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