Three Archetypes for the Clarification of Utopian Theorizing

In Michael J. Griffin & Tom Moylan (eds.), Exploring the Utopian Impulse: Essays on Utopian Thought and Practice. Peter Lang. pp. 83-100 (2007)
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It is my goal in this paper to offer a strategy for translating universal statements about utopia into particular statements. This is accomplished by drawing out their implicit, temporally embedded, points of reference. Universal statements of the kind I find troublesome are those of the form ‘Utopia is x’, where ‘x’ can be anything from ‘the receding horizon’ to ‘the nation of the virtuous’. To such statements, I want to put the questions: ‘Which utopias?’; ‘In what sense?’; and ‘When was that, is that, or will that be, the case for utopias?’ Through an exploration of these lines of questioning, I arrive at three archetypes of utopian theorizing which serve to provide the answers: namely, utopian historicism, utopian presentism, and utopian futurism. The employment of these archetypes temporally grounds statements about utopia in the past, present, or future, and thus forces discussion of discrete particulars instead of abstract universals with no meaningful referents.
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