Utopian Dysfunctionalism Essay

1169 words - 5 pages

Houyhnhnm’s Land is a society unique to Gulliver’s adventures because he encounters not only horses reigning over society, but also that these supreme animals think more rationally and intellectually than the Yahoos and even Gulliver himself. Gulliver’s stay in Houyhnhnm’s Land represents the “perfect”, but emotionless and detached conventions of utopia. According to Dr. Joyce Hertzler’s The History of Utopian Thought, utopians hold a false view of society so that when developing their “perfect” social order they think nothing of “…over-riding natural affections and balking natural desires and impulses” (304). Life is really nothing but a systematic social order if devoid of all emotion, causing one to question the “perfection” of utopia. If one looks beneath the surface of the Houyhnhnm’s culture, one will find that Gulliver’s final journey does not describe an immaculate society, but rather a visionary world, meaning a world that is purely speculative and out of reach.
First, Utopian Thought argues that “Social perfection is an illusive ideal…perfection will never be attained; it is only possible to work toward it” (Hertzler 307). Rulers over utopias believe their ideas are perfect; however, they are only a passing thought of that time. Eventually, another social perfection will rise to the top, and then another. Not one ideal will endure through time as societies increase their knowledge and reason (Hertzler 308). Hertzler claims utopias alienate themselves from the world to take full advantage of the intellect that the rest of society cannot understand (Hertzler 310) because utopias are based entirely on attainable facts (Hertzler 312). Societies based on facts alone are societies lacking sensation.
Secondly, Krishan Kumar’s Utopianism argues the “…ideal city is systematically organized” with an “elaborate social hierarchy (Kumar 13). Utopias consist of rulers, servants, and a common class. These inhabitants, particularly those of high importance and not necessarily commoners, act solely on reason (Kumar 12). “Rational planning, rational regulation [of commoners] and rational administration were essential to the good order of the city” (Kumar 12-13). The utopia’s foundation is logic and reason, and it entirely dismisses the idea that feelings and emotion are significant for making decisions and learning. This insinuates that utopians do not “believe in the natural goodness of man” (Kumar 29). Utopias assume the mindset of overcoming all obstacles with reason. Moral dilemmas are absent because there is no right or wrong. Inhabitants of utopia simply rely on reason to make decisions (Kumar 29-30).
As a result of the findings from these two books, one can better interpret the utopia that Gulliver became familiar with for over three years. To begin with, one can clearly see that Houyhnhnm is based on fact and reason just as Utopian Thought explicitly argues (Hertzler 312). After encountering the horses for the first time, Gulliver...

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