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Well, no, Dr Jagger did not go all the way back to the City of the Sun, but the way I interpreted her PES2014 Kneller Lecture earlier this year, there was a clearly discernible implication to expect more and better from how theory can “reasonably” translate into practice.

Dr Jagger’s Kneller Lecture “Designing Realistic Educational Utopias Using (Mainly) Non-Ideal Reasoning”: 1 page handout .

The intro paragraph there reads:

In Anglo-American political philosophy, the terms “ideal theory” and “non-ideal theory” currently refer to competing methodological approaches for justifying normative conclusions. Each term is used in multiple ways. This talk will disentangle several versions of ideal and non-ideal theory with a view to determining which elements may be helpful in designing models of real-world justice that are contextually relevant, morally adequate, and practically feasible.

Tommaso Campanella (b. 1569, Stilo, Italy – d. 1639, Paris, France), was a Dominican monk, straddling the c. 1600 divide, when some expected a major (you might say metaphysical) world change, not unlike the radical-change expectations at the turn of the 2nd millenium in our time. In addition to a number of treatises, a good number of which produced during 27 years of incarceration, he wrote “A Poetical Dialogue between a Grandmaster of the Knights Hospitallers and a Genoese Sea-Captain, his guest”, known as The City of the Sun.

This (what I’d term) “civic-governance-by-knowledge utopia”, is perhaps Campanella’s most famous work. Some might find it difficult to attach the qualifier “realistic” to  it, but many might be fully able to relate to the “Tell on, I pray you! Tell on! I am dying to hear more” refrain in the recurring paraphrases of the “Grandmaster”.

To give you a taste of Campanella’s epistemological imagination:

On the interior wall of the first circuit all the mathematical figures are conspicuouslypainted — figures more in number than Archimedes or Euclid discovered, markedsymmetrically, and with the explanation of them neatly written and contained each in alittle verse. There are definitions and propositions, etc. On the exterior convex wall is firstan immense drawing of the whole earth, given at one view. Following upon this, there are tablets setting forth for every separate country the customs both public and private…

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Campanella HERE

City of the Sun in English: HERE


July 2020


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