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Utopias Of 21st Century Essay

9963 words - 40 pages

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Utopias of 21st CenturyFeminist UtopiaPhilosophers provided this careful and spirited defense of utopian thinking and practice, arguing that we must approach the twenty-first century with renewed hope for our common future rather than with despairing disengagement from public life. (McKenna,125) Acknowledging that utopian thought is too often unrealistic, disconnected from any possible political action, and tending to totalitarian schemes and oppressive policies, philosophers insist that we nonetheless must not give up on our efforts to imagine a better society and to do so in ways that will lead to actions to make that better society a reality. Hence, rather than jettisoning the tradition of utopianism, experts instead engage the resources of pragmatism and of feminism in order to demonstrate the possibility of (and the necessity for) practical, realistic, and flexible exercises of the utopian imagination. (Soneson, 120) The resulting defense of a pragmatist and feminist form of Utopian thinking is an important contribution not only to the ongoing task of developing a feminist pragmatism but also and perhaps even more significantly to our public life, as experts of the field point to a way for us to think critically and practically about the societal goals we are pursuing and might pursue.Noting that both feminism and pragmatism insist that our thought is always context-dependent and inherently related to particular interests and goals, McKenna turns to the insights of John Dewey (2000) as the basis for a more adequate account of how a diverse community might foster an inclusive process of critical thinking directed to improving their common situation. Retrieving Dewey's argument for the role of art and the creative imagination in the projection of provisional goals ("ends-in-view"), counters the simplistic and too common dismissal of pragmatism as a mere instrumentalism. Instead, shows that a Deweyan pragmatism is critical not of the imaginative development of goals as such, but of any attempt to hold one particular goal as the final ideal, the perfect solution for all times and places. (Dewey, 41) Clear and careful analysis of Dewey's ideas thus provides McKenna with the specific criteria that is used to evaluate the three types of Utopias which can be found in feminist literature, and which are labeled as "end-state," "anarchist," and "process" Utopias. In brief, researchers argue that the Utopian thinking we need must involve attainable yet flexible goals that include a Deweyan concern for democratic practices and for the education necessary to increase broad participation in critical decision-making processes. (Dewey, 42)The first (and perhaps most common) type of Utopia is the one called "end-state"; this type of Utopian thinking, evident in Sheri Tepper's The Gate to Women's Country, is defined by its projection of a final and unsurpassable ideal social order. The dangers of this kind of utopia have become fairly obvious: the...

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