Utopia: 12 Dreams between Fantasy and Reality

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Updated on: Educator Review By: Michelle Connolly

Utopia, the ideal city or the virtuous city, as it has been acquainted, is one of the dreams of the famous Greek philosopher Plato, which is a city that he wished to rule by philosophers thinking that they would make everything in this city a standard and accordingly, it would be virtuous.

Many ancient philosophical ideas have been associated with the philosophers of past ages, especially the philosophy in ancient Greece, which most of its beliefs are still taught to this day, and within all these opinions in Greek philosophy. The ideas of the famous Greek philosopher Plato, who presented many of his thoughts on many topics, appeared.

The view of ​​a virtuous city is considered one of the most important of these ideas and even the most prevalent among people and those interested in studying philosophy. Plato published these ideas in a book called (Republic), as he added in it a set of perceptions about the next golden age in his opinion especially when the community becomes perfect after studying social problems and trying to search for radical solutions to them, which contributes to reaching the virtuous city of Plato.


Plato is one of the historically famous philosophers lived in the middle of the fourth century BCE in Greece. His thoughts and writings spread in ancient Greece and then reached the world with a bit of controversy over the extent of the origin of some of these books. Still, the republican book is considered one of the most famous.

Plato mixed philosophy, ethics, politics, psychology, and other knowledge, which they linked together according to a specific methodology, in which he reflected the best ideas that he collected from these sciences in the form of a city characterised by the spread of virtue, morals, and idealism between its population.

His Life

Plato was born almost in the city of Athens in the year 428 BCE. His family is one of the upper classes in ancient Greece. Plato’s father was proud that he descended from an aristocratic family. In his youth, Plato got acquainted with the famous Greek philosopher Socrates and became one of his disciples, which helped Plato on building his first philosophical ideas that contributed to making his personality in many stages of his life. Plato died in Athens in 347 BCE.

His Philosophy

Plato’s philosophy is varied in the ideas and opinions he proposed during his life. It not only relied on Greek philosophy or what he learned from Socrates. Instead, he was keen to travel to various societies and other places to increase his knowledge and knowledge of human philosophy, which greatly affected his ideas.

This effect was evident in his republican book, just as his philosophy generally relied on the concept of ​​the link between the various entities, specifically the basic ones, which is imposed as eternal or final. Still, it must be reached through the mind and not by relying on the senses, so he was keen to activate the role of the mind in its philosophy, but he saw that there is a necessity to apply the aesthetic characteristics of society, such as justice, righteousness, and others.

Plato’s Utopia

The virtuous city of Plato is one of the dreams he wished to achieve, and he tried to turn it into a general dream for all people. Still, none of the human societies could implement this dream on the ground from the time of Plato until the present time because of the absence of realism from many of the ideas presented by Plato, which are considered poor and unable to simulate human thought.

Plato’s ideas were associated with the concept of Utopia, which refers to an ancient Greek term expressing the opinion of ​​the lack of place. It is impossible to implement the virtuous city of Plato. The general idea of ​​Utopia did not remain subject to the arguments presented by Plato, but its ideas spread in ancient Islamic philosophy. Specifically, in the ninth century CE, the thinker and the Arab Muslim scholar Al-Farabi composed a book on the concept of the virtuous city.

In this book, Al-Farabi presented a set of principles that refer to the virtuous human society, which is based on the idea of ​​the nation’s alliance together in one community, unlike the city of Plato, which was concerned with the concept of ​​the narrow city, that is, the one society that is built according to the principles of virtue and within its limits only, and after Plato and Al -Farabi appeared A group of philosophers who also interested in the ideas of the virtuous city. Still, none of them has yet succeeded in generalising his ideas to human societies.

The “ideal” nature of this city may include the characteristics of moral, spiritual and judicial citizenship and how this is achieved through civilisational structures, including buildings, street planning, etc. On networks (in imitation of the planning of Roman cities) or other engineering patterns.

The ideal city is usually an attempt to spread superior ideals at the local level of urban training and create space for living and luxury, not at the level of culture or civilisation at the level of classic virtuous city literature such as the Utopia by Saint Thomas More.

The Principles of Plato’s Utopia

Utopia depends on some fundamental principles:

  1. It is a fictional city that could be applied in reality and contributes to happiness for everyone living there.
  2. The state is a living unit consisting of members, and the individual is a cell which (is similar to man).
  3. Revealing the social necessity that makes the city the first social and political organisation.
  4. The decision of human need as motivation to organise a meeting.
  5. The desire to work represents the lustful force in man (represented by the working class)
  6. The virtuous warrior layer represents the power of anger.
  7. The power of speech is represented by the class of philosophers and wise.
  8. The brothers made the basis of the link between individuals.
  9. Separate the particular education program in the soldiers based on training to 18 years, then studying for the distinguished until the age of thirty, then looking philosophy for the outstanding also until the fifty, where the leadership is available for the most distinguished while the rest remains in the soldier layer.
  10. Gender equality is highly promoted there.
  11. The property is forbidden for guards for the same cause.
  12. The ruling is not necessarily in one person’s hands.
  13. The number of constructions of the virtuous city is few. They need to get to know each other quickly.
  14. All properties and taxes in the city are considered public ownership, and nothing is within the scope of private property.
  15. The city consists of three layers of residents, namely: the guardians, the warriors, and the farmers, and all of them work in the virtuous city, and each has its work.
  16. Achieving the luxury of the virtuous city community depends on cooperation between its population. Their functions are integrated into one unit.

Undoubtedly, Greek philosophy has a clear impact on the features of global philosophy. This appeared evident in the writings of the old philosophers, and the most famous of them is Plato. He was keen to formulate his philosophical ideas and publish them in various writings, especially his book, The Republic (Utopia). It is considered one of the most significant of these philosophical books with the idea of ​​a virtuous city, which he tried to achieve by offering a set of ideas around it.

It is known that many attempts to develop the ideal city plans are from the Renaissance, and they appear from the second half of the fifteenth century. The date of the concept is due to no less than the period of Plato, which is considered a philosophical exploratory republic for the idea of Utopia. The nobility of the Renaissance seeks to imitate the characteristics of classical civilisation and sometimes to build perfect cities, whether in reality or traditionally, by reshaping behaviours and culture.

Plato represented with his student Aristotle the golden age of Greek philosophy. Its most famous political effects are the book of law and the book of the republic or the virtuous city, whose views revolve around the foundations of the virtuous city and social education in the city and the government supervising the city.

The “ideal” nature of such a city may include citizenship’s moral, spiritual and legal characteristics and how it is achieved through urban structures, including buildings, street planning, etc. The ideal city plans are often based on networks (in the tradition of Roman city planning) or other engineering patterns. The ideal town often attempts to spread virtuous ideals at the local level of urban composition, living space and comfort instead of the cultural or cultural level of the classic virtuous city such as St Thomas More’s Utopia.

Leon Battista Alberti

An ideal city was the Renaissance concept developed by the Italian multicultural Leon Battista Alberti (1404-1472), the author of ten books from the theses of modern architecture. The individual with special sponsors or ecclesiastical items.

Alberti insisted on choosing the city’s site first, followed by the precise preparation of the size and direction of the streets, then the bridges and gates site and finally, a construction pattern governed by perfect consistency.

The ideal city was seen as a virtuous city that must be achieved by ignoring the rational, reasonable standards of the actual historical cities of the bars – engineering, aesthetic, or otherwise – for perfect perfection. Therefore, the controversy over the ideal cities has become isolated from the debate over factual and historical cities. There was often a temptation to impose this controversy and introduce it to a discussion about the virtuous city and city models often associated with the concept of Utopia.

Modern Utopia Examples

Examples of Utopias include:

  1. Sforzinda by Filarete, and a description of them has been included in Tratato Di Archittura (C 1465). The city of Sforzinda was placed inside a star with eight heads engraved inside a circular trench.
  2. Other examples of the so-called “Urbino” and “Baltimore” (the second half of the fifteenth century), which traditionally affected architecture in the planned squares, show logically.
  3. The cities of Palmanova and Nicosia, whose forts were built in the 1990s by the Republic of Venice, are examples of the concept of the ideal city, Utopia.
  4. Another prominent example of this concept is Zamość in eastern Poland, founded in the late sixteenth century and designed by Italian architect Bernardo Morando.
  5. James Oglethorpe collected classic concepts and the renaissance era of the ideal city with the ideal of the new enlightenment for scientific planning and integration in design in his plan for Carolina County. The design component of the famous Oglethorpe plan is still preserved in the historic Savana region.
  6. Examples in the late nineteenth century of the ideal city include the movement of the town of the gardens for Sir Ebenezer Howard, which was achieved in Letchworth Garden City and Welwyn Garden City in England.
  7. Poundbury is the architectural vision of Prince Charles, founded in Dorset, among the latest examples of the perfect planning of the city.
  8. Nowa Huta was built in the 1950s in Krakow, Poland. It is an incomplete example of an ideal perfect city.

The Legend of Atlantis

The lost legend of Atlantis appeared with Plato, the Greek philosopher as the utopia of his dreams. In 360 BCE, this famous philosopher wrote a book explaining Atlantis, which he describes as larger than Asia and Libya combined. It is worth mentioning that Libya represented North Africa. Asia was another name for the island of Cyprus.

Then it was later called all of the continent of Asia known at present – Atlantis appeared, according to what Plato says, into existence 9000 years ago at the interface of the pillars of Hercules, which is now known as the Strait of Gibraltar, located along the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea.

Plato mentions that the inhabitants of Atlantis possessed great marine power, which made them greedy and was the cause of their moral corruption. After they led a failed attack on the city of Athens, a sudden natural disaster occurred because of which that island sank within a night and became a shallow spot of mud that was impossible to find.

There are many theories about locating Atlantis as utopia, which may have inspired Plato’s writings about it. For example, the German physicist Rainer Kuhn believes that the Atlantis region was located on the southern Spanish coast and was swept away by the flood in the period that extended between 800 to 500 BCE.

Satellite images showed two rectangular blocks in a mud spot, and Raines believes that it may have been the remains of a temple that Plato had described. While the Swedish geologist Ulf Erlingsson says that Ireland agrees with Plato’s descriptions of Atlantis and matches him, others see that Atlantis is Spartel Island, which is that Atlantis became it is a shallow mud spot that had sunk into the sea at the Strait of Gibraltar nearly 11,500 years ago.

This was mentioned by the American researcher Robert Sarmast in his book The Discovery of Atlantis and the Surprises of the Island of Cyprus. He found that there is evidence confirming the existence of that lost continent between Cyprus and Syria by discovering traces of human settlements under the sea, at a depth of 1.5 km, at a distance of 80 kilometres on the southeastern coast of Cyprus. He believes that Cyprus is the part that is still visible from Atlantis.

Traditional scholars of the legend of Atlantis believe that few people have given the necessary attention to what Plato said about Atlantis before the advent of the modern era. In this regard, the philosopher Julia Annas wrote in her book entitled Plato: A Very Short Introduction the following: “We will lose an important point when we search for these things if our mission was only limited to exploring the piers”.

Famous Quotes About Utopia

  • “Without other eras, people would have lived in the caves naked and miserable. The utopias drew the first city lines, and useful facts come from generous dreams. Utopia is the principle of all progress and an attempt to achieve better acceptance.”

Anatol France

  • “Modern socialism begins with utopia.”


  • “There is a field in Middlesex for better than the emirate in Utopia.”

Lord McCole

  • “There is no utopia that reaches evil, which prevents it from providing some confirmed advantages.”

August Conte

  • “The utopias are generally seen as literary oddities that famous names have respected. More than what is seen as severe contributions to the political problems that worried the era that appeared in it.”

H.F. Russell

  • “A map of the world does not contain a utopia that does not deserve even just looking at it because it overlooks the only country that the human ship always goes to, and when it is anchored on the beach, it observes the horizon, so if it glimpsed another country, it immediately sailed to it. Progress is to achieve utopias in reality.”

Oscar Wilde

  • “We do not want to live in Utopia, underground meadows, or on a secret island where only God knows where to be. Rather, in this same world, which is our world, this is the place where we find Our happiness at the end, or we find nothing at all.”

William Wordsworth

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