Thomas More “Utopia” ctd.

Utopians got also some books on medicine, which they consider one of the greatest arts and in general they think of science as a means for a man to admire the work of the Creation. They learnt the trade of paper-making and printing from Europeans; neither of the Europeans was actually a specialist but Utopians are so bright that they developed their own technique just by listening to whatever the Europeans knew about it.

As has been mentioned before, they do have slaves. They enslave the prisoners of war only during the wars they fight themselves, but Hythloday doesn’t elaborate on that and I didn’t really know what he means – only the wars for which they don’t use mercenaries or the wars in which they are aggressors? The latter doesn’t seem probable, since they are presented as supremely wise. Their slaves are basically criminals, either the home-grown ones, or the imported ones who were sentenced to death in their own countries. They have also some voluntary slaves, poor foreigners who perhaps should be rather called hirelings, since they are treated well and are free to leave whenever they want.

Utopians take excellent care of the sick, but in case of the incurably sick they encourage them to euthanize themselves, arguing not only that their life is a misery to themselves, but they are also a burden to the whole society. It’s basically a Stoic argument, as the footnote author points out, just with more emphasis added on the social side of things. I guess it’s a very good argument for the theory that Utopia can’t be read as an actual political programme of More, but a kind of “what-if” intellectual exercise.


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