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DICTIONARY OF

THE HISTORY OF IDEAS

DICTIONARY
-OF THE HISTORY
OF IDEAS
--.--:'
..

Studies \ oj Selected Pivotal Ideas


PHILIP P. WIENER
EDITOR

IN

VOLUME

CHIEF

Abstraction in the Formation of Concepts


TO

Design Argument

CHARLES

SCRIBNER'S

SONS

NEW

YORK

Copyright

1968, 1973 Charles Scribner's Sons

The Publishers are grateful for permission to quote from


previously published works in the following articles:
"Agnosticism"
from Language, Truth and Logic, by A.

J.

Ayer, copyright

1935,

by permission of Victor Gollancz Ltd.


"Ambiguity

as Aesthetic Principle"

from Virgil, Aeneid, trans. H. R. Fairclough,

Loeb Classical

Library, by permission of Harvard University Press


from Camoens: The Lusiads, trans. W. C. Atkinson, copyright
1952, by permission of Penguin Books, Ltd.
from The Odes of Pindar, trans. Richmond Lattimore,

copyright

1947 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.


from Richard of Saint Victor, ed. Clare Kirchberger,

1957,

by permission of Harper & Row, Publishers


"Catharsis"
from The Oxford Translation of Aristotle, trans. W. D. Ross,
copyright

1925, by permission of The Clarendon

Press, Oxford

"Cosmology"
from Early Science in Oxford, by R. T. Gunther,
1931, by permission of The Clarendon

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Volume I

SBN 684-13289-3

Volume II

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Volume III

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Volume IV

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Index

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Set

EDITORIAL

BOARD

Isaiah. Berlin
George Boas
Salomon Bochner
Felix Gilbert
Frank E. Manuel
Ernest Nagel
Rene Wellek

MANA

CINC

EDITORS

Charles E. Pettee
.Laurie Sullivan

CONSUL

TING

EDITORS

Harold Cherniss
Wallace K. Ferguson
E. H. Gombrich
PaulO.

Kristeller

Peter B. Medawar
Meyer Schapiro
Harry A. Wolfson

PREFACE
Artists, writers, and scientists do nothesitate in their
creative efforts and researches to borrow ideas outside
their own special fields whenever their themes reach
beyond established forms, styles, or traditional methods.
The languages of the arts will often show the impact
of literary themes, scientific discoveries, economic
conditions, and political change. The physical, biological, psychological, and social sciences have branched
out from ancient mythical and metaphysical ideas of
nature and man, andin their historical development
have utilized the results of analyses and experimental
methods that have emerged from the cross-fertilization
of tested ideas and methods. This outward reaching of
the-mind motivates the historian of ideas to explore the
pivotal clues to man's artistic and scientific achievements in diverse fields. While respecting the integrity
and need for specialized departments of learning, the
historian of ideas makes his particular contribution to
knowledge by tracing the cultural roots and historical
ramifications of the rnajor and minor specialized concerns of the mind,
The editors have invited contributions from scholars
of many countries, especially those scholars who have
shown a particular awareness of the cultural and historical affiliations of their respective disciplines with
other allied fields. Departmental and national boundaries have thus been crossed in the cooperative exchange of ideas and cultural perspectives among editors
and contributors.
We cannot emphasize too strongly the point expressed in the subtitle of our work, that we are presenting a varied array of selected pivotal topics in
intellectual history and of methods of writing about
such topics. Although the number of topics discussed
is large, we do not pretend that these volumes represent
the entire range of intellectual history. To attempt a
complete history of ideas would be to attempt (of
course, in vain) to exhaust the history of the human
mind; hence, the limited number of topics dealt with,
and even these contain lacunae which we hope will
encourage further studies. Students of the history of
ideas should profit from the substance and methods of

interpretation contained in the scholarship of our contributors, and in future research the cross-references,
bibliographies, and index should be valuable aids.
The topics chosen are intended to exhibit the intriguing variety of ways in which ideas in one domain
tend to migrate into other domains, The diffusion of
these ideas may be traced in three directions: horizontally across disciplines in a given cultural period,
vertically or chronologically through the .ages, and "in
depth" by analysis of the internal structUl~eof pervasive
and pivotal ideas. Internal analysis is needed if one is
to discover the component ideas that have become
elements of newer and larger thoughts or movernents.
A now classic model is Arthur O. Lovejoy's historical
study and internal analysis of the Great Chain of Being
into its component "unit-ideas" of continuity, gradation, and plenitude. These unit-ideas are not descriptions of the whole organic cultural and historical setting
of thought, but products of analysis, which Lovejoy
proposed as aids to the unravelling of complex ideas ..
and of their roles in different contexts. However, no
single method or model hasbeen prescribed or adopted
as exclusive by either editors or contributors. We have,
therefore, studies of three different sorts: cross-cultural
studies limited to a given century or period, studies that
trace an idea from antiquity to later periods, and studies
that explicate the meaning of a pervasive idea and its
development in the minds of its leading proponents.
Minor figures cannot be neglected since they often
reflect the prevailing climate of opinion of their times.
The cross-references appended to each article have
been carefully prepared to direct the reader to related
articles in which the same or similar idea occurs within
a different domain, often modified and even transformed by the different context. But despite our interdisciplinary aim, we do not ignore the fact that departments of study are established in academic and
'other specialized institutions. The Dictionary will facilitate the reader's transition from the ideas familiar
to him in his special area of study to those very ideas
operative in, and transformed by, related ideas in other
fields with which he is less familiar.
Vll

PREFACE
In some cases the same word will have entirely
distinct meanings in different disciplines, so that it is
important not to confound words with ideas; for example, it is a sophistic confusion to draw inferences from
the theory of relativity in physics to relativism in
morals, or to impose seventeenth-century mechanical
models on organic or social phenomena. But it is
germane to the history of thought and culture to record
the historical role of such pervasive models in diverse
fields. Consequently, we did not seek to collect topics
for articles at random, but organized an analytical table
of contents into a seven-fold grouping of topics, thus
discovering important relationships which might otherwise have been overlooked. The following domains
and disciplines, of course, involve unavoidable overlapping, but form the basic framework of the selected
topics contributed.
I. The history of ideas about the external order of
nature studied by the physical and biological sciences,
ideas also present in common usage, imaginative literature, myths about nature, metaphysical speculation.
II. The history of ideas about human nature in
anthropology, psychology, religion, and philosophy as
well as in literature and common sense.
III. The history of ideas in literature and the arts
in aesthetic theory and literary criticism.
IV. The history of ideas about or attitudes to history,
historiography, and historical criticism.
V. The historical development of economic, legal,
and political ideas and institutions, ideologies, and
movements.
VI. The history of religious and philosophical ideas.
VII. The history of formal mathematical, logical,
linguistic, and methodological ideas.
Few of the pivotal ideas presented fall squarely and
only within anyone group. Even the ancillary topics

VIll

will lead outward to still other clusters of ideas. The


"Faust Theme," for example, is an illustration of the
more general idea of "Motif" in the history of literature, but the Faust theme is itself pregnant with symbolic references to the problem of evil, to the ideas of
tragedy, of macrocosm and microcosm.
Although the intensive synchronic study of any
"period" of cultural or intellectual history may reveal
the predominance of certain artistic, scientific, industrial, political, religious, or philosophical ideas, there
is no a priori ranking of these groups of ideas. Nor can
it be presumed that they are all of equal importance
through all periods of cultural development viewed
diachronically. The Dictionary's emphasis on jnterdisciplinary, cross-cultural relations is not intended as
a substitute for the specialized histories of the various
disciplines, but rather serves to indicate actual and
possible interrelations.
The purpose of these studies of the historical interrelationships of ideas is to help. establish some sense of
the unity of human thought and its cultural manifestations in a world of ever-increasing specialization and
alienation. These cumulative acquisitions of centuries
of work in the arts and sciences constitute our best
insurance against intellectualand cultural bankruptcy.
Taking stock of the ideas that have created our cultural
heritage is a prerequisite of the future growth and
flourishing of the human spirit.
The editors are indeed grateful for the cooperation
of so many scholars, including advisers and readers as
well as contributors and the staff of the publisher.
Without the unstinting aid and constant encouragement
of Mr. Charles Scribner, who initiated the idea of this
Dictionary, the project would not have come to fruition.
PHILIP P. WIENER

ANALYTICAL TABLE OF CONTENTS


1. The history of ideas about the external order of nature studied by the physical and biological sciences, ideas
also present in common usage, imaginative literature, myths about nature, metaphysical speculation.
Alchemy

Genetic Continuity

Astrology

Health and Disease

Atomism: Antiquity to the Seventeenth Century

Indeterminacy

Atomism in the Seventeenth Century

Inheritance

of Acquired Characteristics

Biological Conceptions in Antiquity

Inheritance

through Pangenesis

Biological Homologies and Analogies

Longevity

Biological Models

Changing

in Physics

Concepts

of Matter

(Lamarckian)

from Antiquity

to

Newton
Conservation of Natural Resources
Cosmic Images
Cosmic Voyages

Nature
Newton and the Method of Analysis
Optics and Vision

Cosmology from Antiquity to 1850

Organicism

Cosmology since 1850

Recapitulation

Entropy

Relativity

Environment

Space

Environment

and Culture

Spontaneous Generation
Technology

Evolutionism

Time and Measurement


Experimental
Ages

Science and Mechanics in the Middle


Uniformitarianism

and Catastrophism

IX

ANALYTICAL

TABLE OF CONTENTS

II. The history of ideas about human nature in anthropology, psychology, religion, and philosophy as well as
in literature and common sense.
Association of Ideas

Psychological Ideas in Antiquity

Behaviorism

Psychological Schools in European Thought

Empathy

Psychological Theories in American Thought

Imprinting and Learning Early in Life

Renaissance Idea of the Dignity of Man

Types of Individualism

Theriophily

Love

Universal Man

Man-Machine from the Greeks to the Computer

Virtu in and since the Renaissance

Pre-Platonic Conceptions of Human Nature

Virtuoso

Primitivism

Wisdom of the Fool

Primitivism in the Eighteenth Century

Witchcraft

III. The history of ideas in literature and the arts in aesthetic theory and literary criticism.
Allegory in Literary History

Demonology

Ambiguity as Aesthetic Principle

Evolution of Literature

Ancients and Moderns in the Eighteenth Century

Expressionism in Literature

Art and Play

Form in the History of Aesthetics

Art for Art's Sake

Genius from the Renaissance to 1770

Baroque in Literature

Genius: Individualism in Art and Artists

Theories of Beauty to the Mid-Nineteenth

Century

Musical Genius

Theories of Beauty since the Mid-Nineteenth Century

Concept of Gothic

Catharsis

Harmony or Rapture in Music

Chance Images

Iconography

Classicism in Literature

Impressionism in Art

Classification of the Arts

Irony

sens~:;} the Comic

Literature and Its Cognates

Creativity in Art

Literary Paradox

Literary Criticism

Millenarianism

ANALYTICAL

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Mimesis

Periodization in Literary History

Motif

Rhetoric and Literary Theory in Platonism

Motif in Literature: The Faust Theme

Poetry

Literary Attitudes Toward Mountains

from Antiquity

to the

Mid-

Realism in Literature

Music and Science

Rhetoric after Plato

Music as a Demonic Art

Romanticism in Literature

Music as a Divine Art

Romanticism (ca. 1780-ca. 1830)

Myth in Antiquity

Satire

Myth in Biblical Times


Myth in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance
Myth in English Literature:

and Poetics

Eighteenth Century

Seventeenth and Eigh-

teenth Centuries

Victorian Sensibility and Sentiment


Style in Literature
Sublime in External Nature

Myth in the Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries

Symbol and Symbolism in Literature


Taste in the History of Aesthetics from the Renaissance

Myth in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

to 1770
Temperance (Saphrosyne) and the Canon of the Cardi-

Naturalism in Art

nal Virtues
Neo-Classicism in Art
Newton's Opticks and Eighteenth-Century
tion

Imagina-

Sense of the Tragic

Ut pictura poesis

IV. The history of ideas about or attitudes to history, historiography, and historical criticism.
China in Western Thought and Culture

Freedom of Speech in Antiquity

Crisis in History

Historicism

Cultural Development in Antiquity

Historiography

Culture and Civilization in Modern Times

The Influence of Ideas on Ancient Greek Historiog-

Cycles
Determinism in History

raphy
Humanism in Italy

Enlightenment

Oriental Ideas in American Thought

The Counter-Enlightenment

Periodization in History

Fortune, Fate, and Chance

Progress in Classical Antiquity

.
Xl

ANALYTICAL

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Progress in the Modern Era

Renaissance

Idea of Renaissance

Volksgeist

Renaissance

Zeitgeist

Humanism

Literature

and Historiography

V. The historical development of economic, legal, and political ideas and institutions, ideologies, and movements.
Academic Freedom

Ideology of Soviet Communism

Alienation

Justice

in Hegel and Marx

Analogy of the Body Politic

Ancient Greek Ideas of Law

Anarchism

Ancient Roman Ideas of Law

Authority

Common Law

Balance of Power

Concept

Causation

Due Process in Law

in Law

of Law

The City

Equal Protection

Civil Disobedience

Natural Law and Natural Rights

Class

Legal Precedent

Conservatism

Legal Responsibility

Constitutionalism

Liberalism

Democracy

Loyalty

Despotism

Machiavellism

Economic

History

Marxism

Economic

Theory of Natural Liberty

Marxist Revisionism: From Bernstein to Modern Forms

Education

Medieval and Renaissance

Equality

Nationalism

Equity in Law and Ethics

International

Legal Concept

Philanthropy

of Freedom

General Will
Historical

and Dialectical

\1deology

Peace

Property
Materialism

Protest Movements

i'

xii

in Law

Revolution

Ideas of Nation

ANALYTICAL
Romanticism

in Political Thought

Utopia

Vox populi

Social Contract
Social Democracy

TABLE OF CONTENTS

in Germany and Revisionism

Socialism from Antiquity

to Marx

War and Militarism


Welfare State
Social Attitudes

~ate
Totalitarianism

Towards Women

Work

Utility and Value in Economic

Thought

VI. The history of religious and philosophical ideas.


Abstraction

in the Formation

of Concepts

Agnosticism
Alienation

Cynicism
Death and Immortality
Deism

in Christian Theology

Analogy in Early Greek Thought

Design Argument

Analogy in Patristic and Medieval Thought

Determinism

Antinomy

Double Truth

of Pure Reason

Appearance

and Reality

in. Theology: Predestination

Dualism in Philosophy

Baconianism

Epicureanism

Buddhism

Eschatology

Causation

in the Seventeenth

Century

Causation

in the Seventeenth

Century,

Certainty

in Seventeenth-Century

Certainty

since the Seventeenth

and Free Will

Problem of Evil
Final Causes

Thought
Century

Existentialism
Faith, Hope, and Charity
Free Will and Determinism

Chain of Being

Free Will in Theology

Christianity

Gnosticism

in History

and Religion

Church as an Institution

Idea of God from Prehistory

Modernism

Idea of God, 1400-1800

in the Christian Church

Cosmic Fall

Idea of God since 1800

Creation

Happiness

in Religion

and Pleasure

to the Middle Ages

Xlli

TABLE OF CONTENTS

ANALYTICAL
Hegelian

Political and Religious Ideas

Heresy in the Middle Ages


Heresy, Renaissance

Positivism in the Twentieth

and Later

Pragmatism

and Order

Holy (The Sacred)


Idea
Ideal in Philosophy

from the Renaissance to 1780

Irrationalism

in the History of Philosophy

Islamic Conception

of Intellectual

and Microcosm
in Philosophy

Metaphor

in Religious Discourse

Prophecy

in the Middle Ages

Pythagorean

Doctrines

to 300 B.C.

Pythagorean

Harmony

of the Universe

Life

Rationality

among the Greeks and Romans

Reformation
Relativism in Ethics

Ritual in Religion

Religious Enlightenment

Right and Good

N eo-Platonism

Romanticism

Ethics of Peace

Perfectibility

Philosophy

Skepticism in Antiquity

of Man

Skepticism in Modern Thought

Pietism
Platonism in Philosophy

in Post-Kantian

Sin and Salvation

Philosophy

and Poetry

Ethics of Stoicism

Platonism in the Renaissance

Theodicy

Platonism since the Enlightenment

Time

Positivism in Europe to 1900

Utilitarianism

Century

in American Thought

Religious Toleration

Necessity

XIV

Scripture

Religion and Science in the Nineteenth

Imagination

Moral Sense

Perennial

in Hebrew

Origins of Religion

Metaphor

Metaphysical

Prophecy

Ramism

Impiety in the Classical World

Macrocosm

Century (Logical Empiri-

cism)

Hermeticism
Hierarchy

Positivism in Latin America

ANALYTICAL
VII. The history of formal mathematical,
Anthropomorphism

TABLE OF CONTENTS

logical, linguistic, and methodological

ideas.

Linguistics

in Science

Axiomatization

Linguistic

Theories

in British Seventeenth-Century

Philosophy
Casuistry
Relativity of Standards of Mathematical Rigor
Causation
Mathematics in Cultural History
Causation in History
Number
Causation in Islamic Thought
Probability: Objective Theory

Chance

Formal Theories of Social Welfare

Classification of the Sciences


Continuity

and Discontinuity

edge

in Nature and Knowl-

Structuralism
Symmetry and Asymmetry

Game Theory

Uniformitarianism

in Linguistics

Infinity

Unity of Science from Plato to Kant

Study of Language

xv

LIST OF ARTICLES
Abstraction in the Formation of Concepts

I 1

Atomism in the Seventeenth Century

I 132

Academic Freedom

I 9

Authority

I 141

Agnosticism

I 17

Axiomatization

I 162

Alchemy

I 27

Baconianism

1172

Alienation in Christian Theology

I 34

Balance of Power

I 179

Alienation in Hegel and Marx

I 37

Baroque in Literature

I 188

Allegory in Literary History

I 41

Theories of Beauty to the Mid-Nineteenth


Century

I 195

Ambiguity as Aesthetic Principle

I 48

Analogy in Early Greek Thought

I 60

Theories of Beauty since the MidNineteenth Century

I 207

Analogy in Patristic and Medieval Thought

I 64

Behaviorism

I 214

Analogy of the Body Politic

167

Biological Conceptions in Antiquity

I 229

Anarchism

I 70

Biological Homologies and Analogies

I 236

Ancients and Moderns in the Eighteenth


Century

I 76

Biological Models

I 242

Anthropomorphism

I 87

in Science

,
Buddhism

I 247

Antinomy of Pure Reason

I 91

Casuistry

I 257

Appearance

I 94

Catharsis

I 264

I 99

Causation

I 270

Causation in History

I 279

Causation in Islamic Thought

I 286

Causation in Law

I 289

Causation in the Seventeenth Century

I 294

and Reality

Art and Play


Art for Art's Sake

I 108

Association of Ideas

lUI

Astrology

I 118

Atomism: Antiquity to the Seventeenth


Century

I 126

xvii

LIST OF ARTICLES

XX

Marxist Revisionism: From Bernstein to


Modern Forms

III 161

II 638

Relativity of Standards of Mathematical


Rigor

III 170

Justice

II 652

Mathematics in Cultural History

III 177

Study of Language

II 659

Changing Concepts. of Matter from


Antiquity to Newton

III 185

Ancient Greek Ideas of Law

II 673
Metaphor in Philosophy

III 196

Ancient Roman Ideas of Law

II 685
Metaphor in Religious Discourse

III 201

Common Law

II 691
Metaphysical Imagination

III 208

Millenarianism

III 223

Mimesis

III 225

Moral Sense

III 1i!30

Motif

III 235

Motif in Literature: The Faust Theme

III 244

Literary Attitudes Toward Mountains

III 253

Music and Science

III 260

Music as a Demonic Art

III 264

Irony

II 626

Irrationalism in the History of Philosophy

II 634

Islamic Conception of Intellectual Life

Concept of Law

III 1

Due Process in Law

III 6

Equal Protection in Law

III 10

Natural Law and Natural Rights

III 13

Legal Precedent

III 27

Legal Responsibility

III 33

Liberalism

III 36

Linguistics

III 61

Linguistic Theories in British SeventeenthCentury Philosophy

III 73

Music as a Divine Art

III 267

Literary Paradox

III 76

Myth in Antiquity

III 272

Literature and Its Cognates

III 81

Myth in Biblical Times

III 275

Longevity

III 89

Myth in the Middle Ages and the


Renaissance

III 286

Love

III 94

Myth in English Literature: Seventeenth


and Eighteenth Centuries

III 294

Myth in the Eighteenth and Early


Nineteenth Centuries

III 300

Myth in the Nineteenth and Twentieth


Centuries

III 307

Loyalty

III 108

Machiavellism

III 116

Macrocosm and Microcosm

III 126

Man-Machine from the Greeks to the


Computer

III 131

Medieval and Renaissance Ideas of Nation

III 318

Marxism

III 146

Nationalism

III 324

LIST OF ARTICLES
Vox populi

IV 496

Witchcraft

IV 521

War and Militarism

IV 500

Social Attitudes Towards Women

IV 523

Welfare State

IV 509

Work

IV 530

Wisdom of the Fool

IV 515

Zeitgeist

IV 535

xxiii

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H. Diels and W. Kranz, Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker,
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of Albrecht Durer, trans. W. H. Conway (Cambridge, 1889).
G. F. Else, Aristotle's Poetics: The Argument (Cambridge,
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Alexander Gerard, An Essay on Genius (London, 1774).
Arthur Grant, The Ethics of Aristotle (London, 1885). R.
Hackforth, Plato's Examination
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Arnold Hauser, The Social History of Art, 4 vols. (New York,
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The Philosophy of Fine Art, trans. F. P. B. Osmaston
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Language (London, n.d.). Xenophon, Memorabilia of Socrates, trans. E. C. Marchant (London, 1949). Edward Young,
Coniectures on Original Composition, ed. M. W. Steinke
(1759; New York, 1917).
MILTON

C. NAHM

[See also Analogy; Art and Play; Beauty; Creation


in
Religion; Expressionism; Genius; God; Mimesis; Platonism;
Pythagorean Harmony of the Universe.]

CRISIS IN HISTORY
THE last fifty years the word "crisis" has
achieved a popularity among writers and their audiences which stands in need of clarification. The proliferated use of the term can be attributed neither to
vogue nor fad; it indicates, rather, an awareness of crisis
as a salient feature of contemporary consciousness:
However, the frequently indiscriminate use of the word
has resulted in considerable confusion as to its exact
meaning. Newspapers and magazines employ the expression to describe any change in. human activities,
whether impending or completed, thus permitting it
to cover a multitude of topics from the production of
moving pictures to political action. Historians have
spoken of the Crisis of the English Aristocracy, or the
Crisis of the European Mind, or the Age of Crisis,
failing to give a precise meaning to the word, though
we are occasionally warned that such terms should not
glide inadvertently from the pen.
In view of the uncertainty pertaining to the word,
we must without delay reach some understanding of
the sense in which the expression is used. Even if there
were a tacit consensus as to the significance of the word
"crisis," such elucidation would seem necessary. The
dictionary tells us that it is of Greek origin (KpiulS) and
carries the meaning, to separate or to divide. Three
different, though obviously related meanings are listed:
"l. the turning point in the course of a disease, when
DURING

589

CRISIS

590

IN HIS TOR Y

it becomes clear whether the patient will recover or


die, 2. a turning point in the course of anything; decisive or crucial time, stage or event, 3. a crucial situation; a situation whose outcome decides whether possible bad consequences will follow: as, an economic
crisis" (Webster's New World Dictionary, 1966).
A precise history of the word does not exist. Of the
three meanings given in Webster, the medical one was,
we should judge, the oldest. It was used frequently in
professional treatises and in literary descriptions to give
an account of human illness. The wider purport of the
word is of more recent usage and was rarely applied
before the end of the eighteenth century. Thomas Paine
wrote in 1776 about The American Crisis, saying,
"These are the times that try men's souls."
Both his assertion and the date of his assertion are
significant. The end of the ancien regime in the Western world was hastened by three great revolutions: the'
American, the French, and the Industrial Revolutions.
Their impact on many observers was that of precipitous, even calamitous, change; in a word, crisis. Although premonitions of even greater transformations
yet to come were voiced many times during the early
nineteenth century, no general theory of crisis had been
developed even by those thinkers most deeply concerned with the future of European civilization, such
as Henri de Saint-Simon or Auguste Comte. It should
be noted, however, that the term was introduced and
acquired wider currency in the. conceptual language
of economic analysis.
Although earlier centuries had experienced frequent
economic disturbances, it was only during the period
following the great revolutions that economists undertook a preliminary analysis of what is today known
as "the business cycle." It is in these descriptions and
dissections of the business cycles that we first encounter
a broader use of the term "crisis." Theorists did not
at first distinguish between external influences, which
might produce a disruption of the economic process,
and internal causes produced by the dynamics of the
business cycle .proper. Gradually, however, it came to
be recognized that the term "crisis" as used in economic theory should be applied in a restricted sense
indicating the span of time required for the transformation of extraordinary phenomena from a pathological to a normal situation. Such a definition would
imply that a crisis is only a transitory occurrence, and
that after it has passed, the economy returns to a state
of health. Indeed, this was the conviction of most
economists of the nineteenth century, J. B. Say, for
instance, or J. C. L. S. de Sismondi, Thomas Malthus,
and J. S. Mill. The frequency of economic crises, occurring in 1815, 1825, 1836, and 1847, seemed to
confirm this belief. Most economists were concerned

with locating the cause or causes of economic crises,


and they found them variously in overproduction,
underconsumption, disequilibrium of production and
consumption, oversaving, etc. Their findings might be
summed up in the epigrammatic remark of Clement
Juglar in Les Crises commerciales et leur retour peri-

odique en France, en Angleterre et aux Etat Unis


(Paris, 1862), that the only cause of depression was
prosperity; in other words, crises were natural phases
of the business cycle which ran its course in accordance
with its own laws and dynamics.
The great exception to this interpretation was taken
by Karl Marx, who saw in economic crises one of the
characteristic features of the prevailing capitalistic
system which he considered of enormous significance.
Though Marx distinguished between general institutional conditions that allow for cyclical movement of
the economy, and extempore conditions which actually
spark the outbreak of crises, he accepted the notion
of the periodical recurrence of crises as a matter of
course. The idea was first expressed in the Communist
Manifesto (1848): "In these crises a great part not only
of the existing products, but also of the previously
created productive forces, are periodically destroyed.
Society suddenly finds itself put back into a state of
momentary barbarism . . . industry and commerce
seem to be destroyed .... " Furthermore, it was stated
that crises tend to become more and more destructive
in the course of capitalistic development, thus leading
to the final breakdown of bourgeois society in a
"super-crisis" from which the old society cannot recover and during which the working class will seize
power through the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Marx restated his theory of crisis several times, especially in Das Kapital (1867-94), but he died before
he could clarify some of the ambiguities of his doctrine.
As Joseph Schumpeter has said in his History of Economic Analysis (p. 1131), it remains "the great unwritten chapter" of Marx's work. Consequently, his disciples
disagree in their interpretations of this cardinal point
in the Marxian theory. The crucial issue concerns the
prognostication of the nature of the final crisis, whether
it would be a violent overthrow of the existing order,
or a gradual transformation. Lenin, in Imperialism
(New York, 1939), assumed that a world war would
bring on the end-crisis from which the world revolution
would emerge with irrepressible force.
We need not delay over other details of the Marxian
crisis theory which are still under debate. Its value lies
not only in the explanation it offered for the cyclical
movements of the capitalistic economy, but even more
for allocating the latter in the framework of a universal
historical process, making the final crisis the decisive
step from man's pre-history to his history. Its limita-

CRISIS
tions should likewise be transparent. It is heavily
weighted toward the economic factors of history, thus
precluding any objective evaluation of crises that stem
from other sources. Finally, its eschatological determinism forces the crisis phenomenon into the pattern
of a revolutionary development that allows of only one
solution. Nevertheless, it seemed the most plausible
explanation of the changes that took place in the world
during the nineteenth century, and it was given added
credence by the outbreak of the great depression of
1929. Since then, however, the resilience of the capitalistic economy in combination with the new Keynesian theories has greatly weakened the. influence of
Marx.
Several thinkers and statesmen of the nineteenth
century felt, for different reasons, as did Marx, that
the Western world was in a cataclysmic state, and they
shared in his consciousness of crisis. Among them were
Metternich, de Tocqueville, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche,
and Henry Adams. Yet, strangely enough, none of these
developed a theory of crisis. The Swiss historian, Jakob
Burckhardt, would appear to be the only outstanding
thinker who accepted the gambit. Burckhardt was as
much concerned with the future of Europe CAlt
Europa," as he called it) as anyone of the politicians,
historians, and philosophers we have mentioned. However, he was a historian by profession, and thought it
his duty to elucidate certain processes which had escaped the attention of other observers. He carried out
this self-imposed obligation in a course of lectures at
the University of Basel, .first given in 1868. His notes
were published posthumously under the title, Reflections on World History (Weltgeschichtliche Betrachtungen) , and included a chapter on historical crises.
The earlier lectures dealt with the three great forces
which make up the fabric of history: state, religion,
and culture. But Burckhardt goes on to contend that
these slow and lasting mutual influences and interactions are accompanied by certain phenomena which
provoke an acceleration of the historical process. He
called them historical crises. Bypassing the crises of
primitive times, about which there is insufficient information, Burckhardt begins his review with migratory
movements and invasions, such as the invasion of the
Roman empire. by the Germanic tribes, the rise of
Islam, or the conquest of the Byzantine empire by the
Ottoman Turks. Movements like these are important
because they provoke a clash between old cultures and
young ethnic forces. Invasions may bring on rejuvenation or barbarism, and, says Burckhardt, not every
invasion rejuvenates; only those that carry a youthful
race capable of assuming the culture of an older, already cultured race can do so. Clearly, as we might
expect from the historian of the Italian Renaissance,

IN HISTORY

Burckhardt's criterion is culture. He goes on to say that


there is a healthy barbarism just as there is a negative
and destructive one. Thus in exhausted civilizations a
crisis may bring out greatness, but it may be the
euphoric vigor of the dying.
The next phenomenon Burckhardt considers as a
contributing factor in the coming of crises is war.
Inevitably his horizon here is the nineteenth century,
a century that accepted war as necessary and even
beneficial. Burckhardt admits to some of the standard
arguments of his age, but his overall evaluation is
skeptical and pessimistic. That wars may produce crises
could not be denied, but, "Men. are men, in peace as
in war, and the wretchedness of earthly things lies
equally upon them both."
In discussing wars as elements of crises, Burckhardt
makes an important distinction between surface crises
and genuine crises. For instance, he considered the
wars of his own century as surface crises only. He even
went so far as to describe the entire history of the
Roman empire, from Augustus to Constantine, as untouched by genuine crises. Genuine crises are rare, he
asserted; they should not be confused with civil or
religious disputes which fill the air with deafening
clamor and soon fade into oblivion. The test of the
genuine crisis is that it leads to vital transformations,
such as followed the invasion of the Roman empire
by the Germanic tribes.
.
The distinction between surface and genuine crises
is one of the significant contributions of Burckhardt's
study, as is also his differentiation between genuine
crises, abortive crises, and arrested crises. He asked the
questions asked by every historian: Why do certain'
crises go unchecked?, Why do others fail to reach the
turning point and fizzle out?, and finally, Are there
some crises which could have been avoided, and if so,
how could this have been accomplished? Burckhardt's
originality lies not so much in the answers he offers
(they were necessarily conditioned by the scholarship
of his period), as in the queries he poses, for instance,
his assertion that the Reformation could have been
checked, and that the French Revolution might have
been moderated. However that may be, what counts
for our study of the problem of crisis is his observation
of the dynamics of the true or genuine crisis. Genuine
crises, he asserts, produce a sudden acceleration of the
historical process in a terrifying manner. Developments
which under "normal" circumstances might have extended over centuries, are completed in a matter of
months or weeks.
At this point it might seem as though Burckhardt
meant to identify crisis and revolution, but this would
be an erroneous assumption. According.to him, every
revolution is a result of the interaction of one or several

591

CRISIS

592

IN HISTORY

crises, though it does not follow that every crisis leads


to or ends in revolution. Crisis is the general term, and
it encompasses revolution. There can be little doubt,
however, that many crises tend to unleash revolutionary upheavals. As Burckhardt sees it, one of the
psychological motives for the eruption of crises is man's
perennial and deep-rooted desire for change. Moreover, he seeks revenge for his sufferings, and since he
"cannot reach the dead," his blame falls on the existing
authorities. There are sufficient instances in the history
of communism and fascism to support Burckhardt's
observation. A blind coalition between all malcontents
combines with a radiant vision of the future: the brilliant farce of hope.
One further comment of Burckhardt's deserves our
attention. He maintains that the force and value of
a crisis cannot be assessed at the initial stage; a crisis
should not be appraised by its program but by the
quantity of explosive material at hand. The test of a
genuine crisis lies in its actual force under pressure.
Once again, he introduces here a new concept to clarify his idea of the genuine crisis: "counterfeit crises"
are easily paralyzed; only the real ones will prevail.
In praise of crises, Burckhardt states that they are the
result of real passions and that passion is the mother
of great events.
Crises do not necessarily interfere with spiritual or
cultural achievements. Whereas continuity and tradition may induce a favorable climate for culture, man
may thereby be lured into a false security and his
intellectual life become a matter of routine. Crises,
argues Burckhardt, may be regarded as authentic signs
of vitality. "All spiritual growth," he says, "takes place
by leaps and bounds, both in the individual and in the
community." Moreover, crises should be regarded as
a proof of growth. Negatively speaking, they clear the
ground of institutions that have long since withered
away or of pseudo organizations which had no reason
to exist except as obstacles to excellence. In proof of
his point, Burckhardt says that The City of God would
never have been written had it not been for the collapse of the Roman empire in Italy, and he adds that
the Divina Commedia was composed while Dante was
in exile. Crises teach men to distinguish between what
is trivial and what is fundamental in human life, and
he quotes Ernest Renan, who asserted that philosophy
has never flourished more freely than it did during the
great days of history. We may, however, be allowed
to question whether the great days of history are perforce days of crisis. Crises may indeed fertilize human
thought, but they may also annihilate it.
Viewed as a whole, what Burckhardt gives us is less
an anatomy of crisis than a typology of crisis. As such

it has lasting value and may be used as a foundation


for those crises which Burckhardt did not adequately
analyze or which have been clarified by later events.
Thus, the Reformation must be seen, regardless of
Burckhardt's evaluation, as a chain reaction of crises.
The personal crisis of Luther led to his confrontation
with the authorities of the Old Church, and eventually
his reforms engulfed the politics and the economy, first
of Germany, and finally of nearly all Europe. Viewed
from close range, a crisis often turns out to be composed of two or more interlocking crises in which the
strongest element subdues the others or drives them
underground, where they may live a subterranean
existence and emerge again at a more propitious moment, Nor is it always an easy matter to determine
the moment when a crisis has come to the end of its
course. For instance, it would be fair to say that the
Reformation had spent itself in Germany by 1648,
whereas it was still vigorous in England and in the
New World.
The Protestant Reformation did not overthrow the
reign of the Papacy; it can be said, rather, that, since
its triumph in the eleventh century, it has weathered
all crises that threatened its existence, but that the
marks left upon the institution are clearly visible.
It is worthy of note that Burckhardt in his treatment
of historical crises never refers to the Renaissance,
though he was without doubt the most outstanding
historian of that period during the past century. Furthermore, his own treatment of the Renaissance seems
to suggest that he did in truth see it as the end-crisis
of the medieval world and as the nativity of modern
man. We do not know what moved him to exclude
the Renaissance from his analysis, but whatever the
reason may be, he thereby came closer to the contemporary view of the Renaissance than might have been
expected.
After a long debate about the origins, the character,
and the impact of the Renaissance, most historians of
today would agree that it should not be treated as a
genuine crisis in the Burckhardtian sense. Certain historians have argued that the term "Renaissance" should
be eliminated entirely (F. Heer); some emphasize the
gradual transformation of the world from medieval
times to the present (C. H. Haskins, J. Huizinga); still
others point to the persistence of the Latin tradition
which permeated literary expression throughout the
Middle Ages, delivering itself to the future without
benefit of crises (E. R. Curtius, 1954). These views
support the belief that the Renaissance cannot be presented as a sudden break with the medieval perspective, but should rather be looked upon as a constant
ground swell, reaching such proportions by 1500 that

CRISIS
we are obliged to acknowledge a fundamental change
in man's outlook upon himself and upon the world.
Needless to say, violent upheavals occurred, and the
struggle between the republican ideal prevailing in
Florence and Venice, and the absolutism to which the
rulers of Milan aspired created a favorable climate for
the rise of the new humanism (H. Baron, 1955).
Nevertheless, these sporadic events do not permit
us to classify the Renaissance under the heading of
crisis. If we accept this stricture, we may be able to
.arrive at a more concise use of the word "crisis" than
is commonly accepted: only a precipitous change over
a short span of time affecting the very vitals of institutions, mores, modes of thought and feeling, power
structures, and economic organizations, may rightly be
termed a "crisis."
Economic and political crises are most easily detected, perhaps because they affect the lives of more
people more directly and more brutally than intellectual or emotional changes. It does not follow, however,
that they are always understood as such. More often
than not, economic crises can only be properly understood in retrospect; take for instance the economic
changes which to,ok place after the Black Death in
Europe, or the price revolution of the sixteenth century, which left observers completely bewildered. Political upheavals, on the other hand, seem less opaque
arid less difficult to group under the heading of crisis.
But here, too, we should beware of hasty generalizations which stamp every change with the trademark
of crisis. Political crises may be more readily recognizable because they have a greater degree of visibility;
their protagonists attract the limelight in history and
provoke a more complete documentation both of the
actual events and of the motives behind them.
The most important political crises are to be found
in the great revolutions; from them, as E. RosenstockHuessy (Die europaischeii ... , 1961) has said, the
characteristics of the, different .European nations
emerged. There was ,the Papal Revolution of the
eleventh century, the English Revolution of the seventeenth century, the French Revolution, and the Russian
Revolution. This writer would rank the revolt of the
Netherlands and the A\rnerican Revolution among the
gemdne historical crises which fulfill the criteria we
have, listed above. The' revolution of 1848, however,
must be rejected; it was, in the felicitous phrase of
G. M. Trevelyan, "the turning point at which modern
history failed to turn" (Trevelyan, 1946). It was an
arrested crisis brought to fruition at a later date in those
countries affected by it.
Many of the revolutions and pronunciamentos in
Latin America and Africa are called revolutions,

IN HISTORY

whereas they are in reality only "counterfeit crises"


which do not result in a vital transformation of the
status quo, but merely a change of the guard with
promises which remain unfulfilled after victory has
been achieved.
The rise of the absolute monarchies in Europe, superseding feudalism without destroying it, furnished
further examples of the genuine crisis. It is in the nature
of crises to change complexion in accordance to the
country in which they occur. Consequently the rise
of absolutism presents a different picture in Spain,
France, Germany, Denmark, Austria, and Russia. Yet
in every instance the' concentration of power in the
hands of a dynasty supported by bureaucracy and
military power seems essential. The crisis character of
the situation lies in the political subjection of the nobility to the will of "The Prince" with the subsequent
economic and social changes effected thereby. In many
instances certain events marked the crisis, such as the
iournee des dupes ("the day of fools") by means of
which Richelieu cemented his power in France. Such
occurrences might be called sub-crises, since their full
meaning can be grasped only within the framework
of the greater genuine crisis.
Abortive political crises are frequent, .though it is
not always easy to distinguish them from arrested
crises. The Russian revolution of 1905 might come
under either heading. On the other hand, La Fronde
is a classical example of the abortive crisis, as is also
the Nat Turner rebellion of 1831. Another abortive
crisis occurred in Prussia in 1819; it determined the
policy of that country for half a century and prevented
the liberalization of the state at a time when such a '
move could have had a decisive influence on the destiny of Germany.
Apprehension of the political crisis is not always
followed by comprehension. There are some which resemble earthquakes; they are felt by everyone, but they
defy explanation. The phenomenon of German national
socialism is a case in point. In spite of the large body
of literature on the subject, no convincing explanation
of this greatest retrogression in the history of Western
civilization has been provided thus far.
As we have said, wars must be counted among the
most important causes of historical crises, and this is
twice true. Wars may by themselves indicate a turning
point in history, and we regard the great battles as
engagements in which the survival of this or that power
was at stake; we recall the Spanish Armada, or the
battle of the White Mountain, or Trafalgar, the Battle
of the Marne in 1914, or, more recently, Stalingrad.
Yet wars spark crises in still another way. They release
economic, social, and moral forces of unforeseen power

593

CRISIS

594

IN HISTORY

and dimensions, which often make any return to the


status quo impossible. Karl Marx called them the express trains of history. Not every war, however, is a
genuine crisis; it may be a surface event or a counterfeit crisis.
Special attention should be given to the effect that
technological changes produce on the course of history.
Here too, one must beware of generic statements. Not
all technological inventions have produced crises, and
much depends on the cultural environment in which
they occur. A comparison between Western and Chinese technology would be very enlightening in this
respect. Yet, without question, technological discoveries or improvements must be counted among the prime
agents of precipitous change. For instance, the invention of gunpowder, of the compass and the printing
press, figure in every school book as instruments in the
fracture of the medieval mold. During the last two'
centuries this process has continued with tremendous
speed. The advances in communication, the new mass
media, or the steady increase in firepower by the introduction of nuclear weapoury have become matters of
almost daily acceptance. By themselves, these discoveries are rather symptoms of a long-lasting crisis than
crises themselves, and in many instances we shall have
to wait for their sequel. In other cases, the impact of
technological artifacts on society becomes clear at the
outset. The introduction of farm machinery deprived
the southern American Negro of his job. This led to
the migration of the Negro to the great industrial
centers of the North, the Midwest, and the West, and
the migration, in tum, contributed to the growth of
the "ghettoes." Finally, the ghettoes provoked the
urban crisis which began in the 1960's to shake the
United States from one end to the other, causing in
its very beginnings a profound transformation of the
American society.
Medical discoveries are in the same category, and
have had a far-reaching effect on the demographic
structure of the world. Overpopulation is at least in
part the result of medical advancements; on the other
hand, it is not at all certain that medical remedies will
be successful in checking the' population explosion and
the specter of a world famine which for some holds
more frightening perspectives than a nuclear war. One
is tempted to speak of a suspended crisis.
Since technology is basically applied science, our
rapid survey must move into yet another field, namely
the cultural sciences. As we have noted above, the
permanent crisis in which we are forced to live has
produced a crisis-awareness. This has opened our eyes
to cultural changes and transitions which heretofore
escaped notice. Huizinga, in one such attempt, described the forms of life, thought, and art in the four-

teenth and fifteenth centuries in The Waning of the


Middle Ages (1948), and Paul Hazard's La Crise de la
conscience europeenne (1935) is even more in line with
our reasoning.
In all probability, the First World War made the
Europeans aware that all was not well with their civilization. A number of minds began to probe the depth
of the sickness that had come over Europe; Rudolf
Pannwitz's Die Krisis der europiuschen Kultur (1921),
was one of many efforts in this direction. It is impossible to say whether the general concern over the fate
of the occident inspired Hazard's enterprise, though
there are good reasons to think so. In the final chapter
of his book, he speaks of the genius of Europe which
is never content with itself, which at all times pursues
contradictory aims, one of truth and one of happiness,
whose labor is like the labor of Penelope, unravelling
at night what she had woven during the day. Yet the
immediate purpose of this remarkable work was a more
limited one: Hazard wanted to establish the moment
at which the European mind passed from its timid
beginnings in the Renaissance to a determined revision
of age-old prejudices and preconceived notions by
applying the new standards of critical, rational thinking. Hazard proved that the "moment" spanned the
years 1680 to 1715, that it provoked a violent clash
of ideas, and that modem ideas emerged triumphant
in the end, though some comers of Europe continued
to harbor the old ones. Hazard demonstrated that over
the thirty-five years to which his essay is limited there
occurred a lasting and vital transformation of the
European consciousness.
The word "crisis" seems to imply a break in continuity, but such breaks are often more apparent than
real. The crisis of the late seventeenth century had been
nourished by many subterranean waters until it finally
broke ground and reached the light where historical
decisions take place. Hazard is deeply conscious of this
continuity, and presents the crisis with all its real and
apparent contradictions.
The second cultural crisis-romanticism-of
which
we now must speak, would have been fortunate to find
such a master analyst as Hazard; but although it caused
an enormous amount of literature and discussion, no
consensus emerged as to its origins, its essence, and
its scope. The historian is obliged to grope through
a labyrinthian profusion of scholarly effort to come to
grips with the phenomenon.
Romanticism presents a crisis that in many ways
parallels the one described by Hazard, but in other
respects it gives evidence of fundamental differences.
It too was European in scope, and was also accompanied by a deep-reaching change in perspective for
almost all aspects of human life: poetry and philosophy,

CRISIS
music and painting, political thought and social ideals.
Yet any perusal of the literature devoted to its understanding shows the widest divergency. The movement
was at first called the romantic school, later the romantic protest. It was alternately praised and vilified,
its influence exaggerated or belittled. At the outset it
seemed clear that its origins lay around 1790, and that
its birth took place in Germany concurrently with the
other great revolution across the Rhine. However, its
beginnings have gradually been pushed back to 1750.
Preludes have been discovered that are called preromanticism, and its origins have been traced back
to such movements as German Pietism and the French
and Spanish Quietism. To compound the difficulties,
scholars have failed to realize that romanticism could
not be comprehended simply by taking note of the
ideals it proclaimed or the political parties it espoused.
There was a conservative romanticism, just as there
was a liberal and a democratic one, and one could even
list a socialist one. But it is hopeless to arrive at any
definition of romanticism by regarding the objects it
emphasized or discovered, as for instance, the Middle
Ages, or folk poetry, or the Catholic Church. Thus we
come to the essential question: Was romanticism a
matter of being or seeing or both, and in what order?
The distinction has been made of late between intrinsic romanticism
and historical romanticism
(Barzun), and this at least gives the basis for viewing
the historical romanticism of the period between 1750
and 1850 as a change in mood and temper before it
became a change in thought and ideas. Such shifts in
mood had occurred in Europe in earlier times and had
not always been recognized for what they were. In
the case of the romantic movement an emotional
subjectivism was brought to the fore, and it formed
the core of the entire trend and constituted the criterion for the separation of the true romantic from the
fellow traveller, of which there were many. It merits
further study.
It is considerably more difficult to describe a third
crisis in the cultural evolution of Europe. There is some
reason to believe that it is still in process, and if this
be true, the historian can do little more than note some
of its aspects while its full impact is reserved for later
writers. Keeping these reservations in mind, it may be
said that around 1890 Europe entered into one of the
most profound transformations of its entire history.
There were those who interpreted the symptoms as
indications of a final breakdown; such were tile apocalyptic prophets Nikolai Danilewski (Rossiia I Europa,
1895) and Oswald Spengler (Der Untergang des
Abendlandes, 1918). More restrained minds contented
themselves with describing and analyzing the phenomena as they were revealed to a critical mind. H. S.

IN HIS TOR Y

Hughes undertook such a study in his Consciousness


and Society (1958), and the present writer offered a
similar essay in Prophets of Yesterday (1961). There are
differences of opinion as to the chronology of the crisis
and about the comparative value of the contributions
made by the various European nations, but these are
minor matters. It is clear that the crisis was advanced
by a "cluster of geniuses" somewhat like that which
ushered in the crises of 1680 and 1790. To come upon
a common denominator for the crisis is more difficult ..
Some observers have used the term, "the new irrationalism," and certainly this marks one,though not
all, of the decisive changes that took place. The crisis
of 1890 touches on the very vitals of the intellectual
life of the West, its attitude toward science, the humanities, and religion, as well as toward poetry and
the arts.
Future historians may well see the two World Wars
with their social and economic concomitants as wave
movements in the great transformation that is taking
place at all corners of the earth. Few will doubt that
the crisis which has engulfed our century is a genuine
crisis in the Burckhardtian sense. One of its results
appears to be the emergence of a consciousness which
is learning or trying to learn a way of life that can
accommodate the antitheses of crisis. We are beginning
to wonder whether our destiny is to live under conditions of permanent crisis throughout any predictable
future. The emer~ence of the New Physics, the experimental way in which modern art changes its methods
and its goals every year, the questioning of historicism,
all would seem to prove that old concepts are failing
-i.e., that the idea of crisis is penetrating the most'
varied fields of human activities.
BIBLIOGRAPHY
The term "crisis" in its economic sense is discussed by
H. Herkner in the article "Krisen," Handioorterbuch. der
Staatswissenschaften,
3rd. ed. (Leipzig, 1910), VI, 253-76;
and by J. Schumpeter, History of Economic Analysis (New
York, 1955). Jakob Burckhardt's theory is presented in Weltgeschichtliche Betrachtungen, Vol. VII (Berlin and Leipzig,
1929); trans. J. Hastings Nichols as Force and Freedom,
Reflections on History (Boston, 1964). See also: H. Baron,
The Crisis of the Early Italian Renaissance, 2 vols. (Princeton, 1955); E. R. Curtius, Europiiische Literatur und Lateinisches Mittelalter, 2nd ed. (Bern, 1954), trans. as European
Literature and the Latin Middle Ages (Princeton, 1953); Paul
Hazard, La Crise de la conscience europeene (Paris, 1935),
trans. as The European Mind (reprint New York); H. S.
Hughes, Consciousness and Society (New York, 1958); J.
Huizinga, The Waning of the Middle Ages (London, 1948;
New York, 1954); Gerhard Masur, Prophets of Yesterday
(New York, 1961); E. Rosenstock-Hucssy, Die europiiischen
Revolutionenund
der Charakter der Nationen, 3rd ed.

595

CRITICISM, LITERAR Y
(Stuttgart, 1961); G. M. Trevelyan, British History in the
Nineteenth Century and After (1782-1919) (London, 1946),
p.292.
GERHARD

MASUR

[See also Cycles; Economic History; Historicism; Marxism;


Revolution; Romanticism; War and Militarism.]

LITERARY CRITICISM

596

LITEBARY
CRITICISM
may be defined as "discourse about
literature," and in this wide sense, usual in English,
it includes description, analysis, interpretation as well
as the evaluation of specific works of literature and
discussion of the principles, the theory, and the aes- .
thetics of literature, or whatever we may call the
discipline formerly discussed as poetics and rhetoric.
Frequently, however, literary criticism is contrasted
with a descriptive, interpretative, and historical account of literature and restricted to evaluative, "judicial" criticism. In other languages the more narrow
conception is preferred, particularly in German where
Kritik usually means only "the reviewing of. literary
novelties and the judging of literary and musical performances in the daily press" (Reallexikon der deutschen Literaturgeschichte, Bern [1959], 2, 63), though
recently, probably under English and American influence, the wider use has again become common.
Criticism in English emerged early in the seventeenth century, apparently based on the analogy of
such Sixteenth-century terms as Platonism, Stoicism,
skepticism, etc., devised to avoid the homonym which
arose from the impossibility of distinguishing in English
between "critic," the person, and "critique," the activity. Dryden, in the Preface to the State of Innocence
(1677), said that by "criticism, as it was first instituted
by Aristotle, was meant a standard of judging well,"
and in the same year in a letter (Letters, ed. C. E. Ward
[1942]) he spoke of Thomas Rymer's Tragedies of the
Last Age as "the best piece of criticism in the English
language." Two years later, his play, Troilus and Cressida, was introduced by a preface on "The Grounds
of Criticism in Tragedy." Pope's Essay on Criticism
(1711) established the term for good, though for a time
the term "critic," "critick,' or "critique" was used in
the eighteenth century where we would say "criticism."
Long forms, analogous to the English "criticism" are
rare in other languages. Criticismo occurs in Spanish,
in Baltasar Cracian's El Heroe (1637), and sporadically
in eighteenth-century Italian, but disappeared as there
was no problem of homonymy. In Germany, however,

Kritizismus was used by Schelling, Friedrich Schlegel,


Jacobi, and Hegel for the philosophy of Kant. This
nonliterary use penetrated then into French, Italian,
and Spanish. In these languages criticisme or criticismo
means today only Kantianism.
The term ultimately derives from the Greek krino,
"to judge," and krites, "a judge" or "juryman." Kritik6s,
as "judge of literature" was used as early as the fourth
century B.C. Philitas, who came to Alexandria in 305
B.C.from the island Kos as the tutor of the future king
Ptolemy II,was called "a poet and also a critic." Crates
was at the head of a school of "critics" at Pergamon
which seemed to have argued for a distinction from
the school of "grammarians" headed by Aristarchos in
Alexandria. The word "critic" is used in contradistinction from "grammarian" in the pseudo-Platonic
Axiochos (366E). Galen, in the second century A.D.
wrote a lost treatise on the question of whether one
could be a kritik6s and a grammatik6s at the same time.
But the distinction seems to have become blurred in
antiquity. The term is rare in classical Latin: Hieron
in the Epistolae speaks of Longinus as criticus. Criticus
was a higher term than grammaticus but criticus was
also concerned with the interpretation of texts and
words. What today would be called literary criticism
was, in antiquity, discussed by philosophers like Aristotle and by rhetoricians like Quintilian.
In the Middle Ages the word seems to occur only
as a term in medicine: in the sense of "critical" illness.
In the Renaissance the word was revived in its ancient
meaning. Angelo Poliziano, in 1492 exalted the critic
and grammarian against the schoolman. Grammarian,
critic, philologist became almost interchangeable terms
for the men engaged in the great revival of classical
learning. With Erasmus "the art of criticism," (ars
critical was expanded to include the Bible. On the
whole, however, among the humanists, the term
"critic" and "criticism" was limited to the editing and
correcting of ancient texts. For example, Karl Schoppe
(1576-1649) defined the "only aim and task of critics"
as "taking pains to improve the works of writers in
either Greek or Latin." Joseph Justus, the younger
Scaliger (1540-1605), made criticism even a subdivision
of grammar, confined to distinguishing the spurious
lines of ancient poets from the genuine, to correcting
corrupt readings, in short to what today is called
"textual criticism."
The elder Julius Caesar Scaliger (1484-1558) was the
most influential propounder of a wider conception. In
his posthumous Poetics (1561) the entire sixth book,
entitled criticus, is devoted to a survey and comparison
of the Greek and Roman Poets with the emphasis on
weighing and ranking. The penetration of the term into
the vernacular was, however, very slow. Modern books

DICTIONARY OF
THE HISTORY OF IDEAS

DICTIONARY
OF THE HISTORY
OF IDEAS
Studies of Selected Pivotal Ideas
PHILIP P. WIENER
EDITOR

IN

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Psychological Ideas in Antiquity


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1973 Charles

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"Social Contract"
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DICTIONARY OF
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UTOPIA
which taxation must remain a completely arbitrary
operation. It also justifies, for example, such useful
analytical tools as the distinction between wage goods
and luxury goods.
The preceding picture is foreign to the utility theory
launched by Gossen, Jevons, and Walras. This theory
has instead accumulated an impressive mathematical
arsenal around the idea of the complete reducibility
of wants, which is tantamount to the assumption of
complete substitutability among commodities. The ultimate product needs unparsimonious stressing: the
modern utility theory reduces all wants to one general
abstract want called "utility." In line with this reduction, one need not say "these people need more shoes";
instead, "these people need more utility" should suffice.
The reduction is responsible for the fact that the same
theory teaches that there is no objective basis for interpersonal comparison of utility. All this may again be
due to a particular feature of the economies in which
the builders of the modern theory of utility lived. Those
were not economies in which a low income kept basic
wants in front of everybody's eyes; they were economies where most people were able to satisfy even many
personal wants. Modern utility theory is a theory of
a consumer who has a relatively ample income and
whose economic choice is guided only by the quantities
of commodities.

Morgenstern and John von Neumann, Theory of Games and


Economic Behavior (New York, 1944); Vilfredo Pareto,
Manuel d'economie politique (Paris, 1909), an expanded
version of his Manuale di economia politica (Milan), published in 1905 but dated 1906; Frank P. Ramsey, The Foundations of Mathematics and Other Logical Essays (1926; New
York, 1950); Paul A. Samuelson, "A Note on Pure Theory
of Consumer's Behavior," Economica, N.S., 5 (1938), E)l-71
and353~54; Jean Ville, "The Existence-conditions of a Total
Utility Function" (1946), Review of Economic Studies, 19
(1951-52), 123-28.
General surveys of the technical aspects of the problem
of utility are: Kenneth J. Arrow, "Utilities, Attitudes,
Choices: A Review Article," Econometrica, 26 (1958), 1-23;
John S. Chipman, "The Foundations of Utility," Econometrica, 28 (1960), 193-224; Nicholas Ceorgescu-Roegen,
"Utility," International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences,
17 vols. (New York, 1968), 16,236-67 (it includes a substantial bibliography); George J. Stigler, "The Development of
Utility Theory" (1950), reprinted in J. J. Spengler and
W. R. Allen, eds.,Essays in Economic Thought: Aristotle to
Marshall (Chicago, 1960), 606-55, from Journal of Political
~ Economy, 18 (1950), 307-27, 373-96.
NICHOLAS

GEORGESCU-ROEGEN

[See also Economic History; Economic Theory of Natural


Liberty; Happiness and Pleasure; Social Welfare; Utilitarianism.]

BIBLIOGRAPHY

458

In addition to the classic authors (ancient and modern),


the following special works cited in the text may be consulted for details: Giovanni B. Antonelli, Sulla teoria matematica della economia politica (1866; Milan, 1952); M.
Friedman and L. J. Savage, "The Utility Analysis of Choices
Involving Risk," Journal of Political Economy, 56 (1948),
279-304; Ferdinando Galiani, Della moneta (1750; Bari,
1915); Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen (1936), "The Pure Theory of Consumer's
Behavior,"
reprinted
in Nicholas
Georgescu-Roegen, Analytical Economics: Issues and Problems (Cambridge, Mass., 1966), pp. 133-70; idem, "Choice,
Expectations, and Measurability" (1954a), reprinted ibid.,
pp. 184-215, from the Quarterly Journal of Economics, 68
(1954), 503-34; idem, "Choice and Revealed Preference"
(1954b), reprinted ibid., pp. 216-27, from Southern Economic [ourruil, 21 (1954), 119-30; Hendrik S. Houthakker,
"Revealed Preference and the Utility Function,"
Economica, N.S., 17 (1950),159-74; John Law, Money and Trade
Considered with a Proposal for Supplying the Nation with
Money (1705), reprinted in Oeuvres completes, 3 vols. (Paris,
1934) I, 4; William F. Lloyd, "A Lecture on the Notion
of Value as Distinguishable Not Only From Utility But Also
From Value in Exchange" (1833), Economic History, I
(1927), 170-83; Alfred Marshall, The Pure Theory of Domestic Value (1879), Reprints of Scarce Tracts in Economics
and Political Science, No. 1 (London, 1930); Oskar

UTOPIA
WORD "utopia" derives from two Greek words,
drro7Tos and OVT07TOS, meaning respectively "good
place" and "no place." Utopian writings have reflected
this ambiguity, being sometimes visions of good and
possibly attainable social systems and at other times
fantasies of a desirable but unattainable perfection. The
imaginary societies denoted by the term "utopia" are
all presented as better than any existing society because
of the rationality, harmony, utility, and order prevailing within them. Furthermore the imagined social
systems they embody are better in the sense that men
living in these regimes are either morally better people,
happier, more self-fulfilled, or freer because conflicts
have been eliminated from their environment and
personality. Utopian writings have been one expression
of the belief that given reasonable, natural, and truly
just institutions man's lot can really be immeasurably
improved. Since the seventeenth century utopian writings have been a constant expression of social idealism,
hope, and optimism even though some utopists have
stressed the illusory nature of their visions and have
THE

UTOPIA

found in their impossibility a despairing statement of


human finitude and man's radical imperfection. Most
utopias have been produced within Western civilization. Though other cultures had myths of a golden
age and other proto, utopian forms, only the Chinese
seem to have produced indigenous utopian writings
prior to the influence of Western culture. Even in
China the genre did not flourish until Western civilization impinged upon Chinese consciousness influencing a few writers like K'ang Yieu Wei (1858-1927),
whose The United States of the World appeared in
1935, fifty years after it was begun. In the West, utopias
owed much to ancient classical images of ideal social
existence.
Perhaps the earliest expression of utopianism in
Greek culture is the portrayal of the Golden Age in
the works of Hesiod (ca. 750 B.C.). Hesiod describes
a time when". . . the fruitful earth spontaneously bore
[men] abundant fruit without stint. And they lived in
ease and peace upon their land with many good things
rich in flocks and beloved of the blessed gods" (Hesiod,
Works and Days, 109-21). Here the perfect social
condition is in the pre, urban past in which neither men
nor classes struggled for power or property. Idleness,
luxury, war, religious strife and other forms of conflict,
ennui and malaise find no place in a rustic setting
where men live simply, morally, and happily at peace
.with themselves and nature which abundantly supplies
their needs. Many cultures preserve the image of such
a golden age in the past and thus know of a utopia
gone and not to be regained as long as life is complicated, urbanized, and filled with contention, and yCO'
nomic scarcities are man's inheritance. Lewis Mumford
has argued (Daedalus [Spring 1965], 273) that "Such
a society had indeed come into. existence at the end
of the last Ice Age, if not before, when the long process
of domestication had come to a head in the establish,
ment of small, stable communities, with an abundant
and varied food supply .... " The first utopias would
seem to be the pleasant but nostalgic folk memories
of this state, standing in idealized contrast to the urban
regulated world of war and social strife which sueceeded as Iron-Age populations grew and rational and
religious control systems were elaborated with the
founding of the ancient cities. In Greek thought this
second urban stage of civilization produced a series
of visions of an ideal order which also harked back
to a once real social condition. The ancient cities were
rigidly structured institutions which Mumford has
called (ibid., p. 283) "not only 'utopia' but the most
impressive and most enduring of all utopias ....
For
to an extraordinary extent the archetypal [ancient 1city
[everywhere] placed the stamp of divine order and
human purpose on all its institutions .... " The Bepub-

lic of Plato owes something to this real, but in his time


already archaic and passing, social organization.
The Republic (ca. 370-360 B.C.) is the first great
extant utopian work detailing the institutions of an
ideal social order. It is not, however, the first of such
speculations in Greek culture, for Aristotle mentions
in his Politics (Book II, Chs. 7 and 8, 1266a-1268b)
Phaleas of Chalcedon who, he says, "was the first to
affirm that the citizens of a state ought to have equal
possessions," and Hippodamus of Miletus "who was the
first person not a statesman who made inquiries about
the best form of government." The Republic appeared
at a time when the polis or city-state was proving to
be an inadequate institution. Too small to organize
large areas or to rule over subject peoples, it was large
enough to contain unruly factions and demagogic
leaders. Population growth and the militancy of the
Greeks whose internecine quarrels tended to embroil
city-states in each other's affairs had resulted in a
period of warfare which would end only when the Pax
Romana was imposed upon the ancient world. Plato's
Republic attempted to provide guidance to Athens and
its competitors in this time of troubles and to assure
good men that the pursuit of justice and virtue would
be rewarded in this life and the next (Republic X, 621).
The ideal republic as he sketched it was not only
a reasoned contrivance enabling men to live the good
life but the timeless, eternal, and good form of social
organization. It was, like Plutarch's Sparta, the ultimate rationalization of the ancient city controlling
every aspect of social existence in the name of justice,
order, freedom, peace, strength, stability, and goodness ...
Ruled by wise men, protected by valiant warriors, and
served by men of lesser abilities, Plato's republic, like
most utopias conceived before the eighteenth century,
was anything but democratic. The division of labor was
elaborate and controlled by the governing intellectual
elite who did not toil but organized production and
distribution and kept the population limited to an
optimal level. These philosopher-rulers regulated the
beliefs of the people, teaching each class what it ought
to know and training each for its social role. They
decided all questions of government and maintained
an ideal status quo in this most static and unhistorical
of realms. Often described as a form of communism,
the Platonic republic is perhaps more accurately
described as a rationalized version of the communi,
tarian ideal embodied in the polis. While the work is
utopian in the sense of being .an unrealizable ideal,
many of the institutions with which it is provided were
or were thought to have been in existence somewhere
in the ancient world. As a guide to action, action which
would realize' only in imperfect and changeable form
the idea of a perfect polis, the Republic was not wholly

459

UTOPIA

460

utopian and in this respect as in many others it served


as model and source for later utopists.
Sparta, so well disciplined, pure and successful,
inspired the admiration not only of Plato but of many
other writers, one of whom left an account of its legislator which became a source for later utopists.
Plutarch's Life of Lycurgus (ca. A.D. 100), the Spartan
lawgiver, describes the social institutions which
Lycurgus is supposed to have created for the Spartans
and which made them austere, morally upright, simple,
self-sacrificing, brave, hardy, and in a way happy in
their freedom. Lycurgus stands in utopian and much
nonutopian political writing as the archetypal legislator, the charismatic leader who, given the power and
opportunity, shaped the destinies of a real people as
decisively as have his descendants, who have in numerous utopias transformed the characters of ordinary
men into perfect and ideal citizens. Lycurgus equalized
property in Sparta, all but abolished money, regulated
and ordered the lives of its citizens for their own and
the state's good. The social order he created and the
training and education which he designed to sustain
it were directed to making the Spartans an efficient
military power capable of defending their liberty and
way of life which they saw almost as divine and
unchangeable. Plutarch reports that the Spartans
honored Lycurgus as a god, consecrating a temple to
his memory. The image of Sparta and the possible
changes which an enlightened legislator could make
offered utopists a fascinating vision of rational social
control and a means of realizing it if only the proper
leader could be found;
Later descriptions of ideal societies owe much to
other classical works. Idyllic depictions of the Golden
Age among Arcadians, Hyperboreans, Panchaeans, and
Atlanteans appeared in the works of Euhemerus, Ovid,
Lucian of Samosata, and others. Plato's Laws (ca. 340),
Aristotle's Politics, and Xenophon's Cqropaedia, while
not utopias, provided materials from which later
writers borrowed institutions, notions of enlightened
rule and conceptions of human goodness and happiness
to be found in civic, particularly urban, life. The founder of Stoicism, Zeno of Citium, and later Stoics as
well as eclectic thinkers like Cicero, enlarged the
image of an ideal social order to include all mankind
and not merely those within a walled city.
The ancient world produced another profoundly
different source of Western utopianism. The Hebraic
tradition, as it came to the West in the Bible, has a
number of utopian elements. The view of Eden in
Genesis (Chapter 2) was sketchy enough to make men
wish to describe it more fully. The conception of a
theocratic state in which all is ordered for the glory
of the god of a particular people endowed with a

unique cult has attracted later writers. The vision of


peace and harmony which possessed the Deutero- Isaiah
also has its utopian aspects as do other eschatological
and apocalyptic portions of the Bible. The pseudoepigraphic works of the Jews and early Christians make
much of epochs and eons to come which will be totally
different and better than this decayed and sorrowful
world. The vision of paradise held by early Christian
writers added another not dissimilar utopian element.
Nevertheless the biblical tradition has consistently
worked against utopianism while furthering chiliastic
and millenarian beliefs; it has done so because the transformations of man's life which are revealed are really
the works of God and not of men, reordering their life
in a rational and natural way. The apocalypse of Peter
contains a typical and short account of such supernatural paradise which God, not men, will produce.
(Cf. Eurich, p. 18.)
Speculations about such an ideal existence had
perforce to be speculations about God's providence and
~ not men's plans and efforts. The stress in the Christian
tradition upon the sinfulness and imperfection of fallen
man also worked against utopianism. There could be
but one perfect man, Christ Jesus, and only the City
of God, not of this world, manifested through grace
the perfections for which utopians longed and hoped.
The world as a place of sin, disorder, and suffering
could be purged, judged, and redeemed, but it could
not be radically reformed and perfected by fallen men.
Paradise lost or regained was the only utopia possible
and God alone held its keys. From the beginning of
the Christian era to the sixteenth century Christian
utopian longings usually took the form of millenarianism and utopia the appearance of a redeemed world.
Christianity did, however, provide one notable
source and sanction for utopian thought and practice.
The account of the first Christians contained in The
Acts of the Apostles presents the apostle Peter as a
preacher of a social as well as a religious gospel.
And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and
fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers ....
And all that believed were tagether, and had all things
common, And sold their possessions and gaads, and parted
them to. all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread
from house tohouse, did eat their meat with gladness and
singleness of heart, Praising Gad, and having favour with
all the people. And the Lard added to. the church daily
such as should be saved (Acts 2:42, 44-47).

This passage so manifestly. descriptive of a sectarian


communist society gathered as a saved and saving
remnant has been the favorite text of utopians claiming
to be Christian since the Reformation. Used as a proof
text it was the authorization appealed to by the leaders

UTOPIA
of most nineteenth-century American religious utopian
communities such as the Rappites, the Inspirationists,
and the Oneida Community. On the whole, Christianity has not been utopian in outlook and has branded
as heretics those who took the apostle's message
literally. There were consequently few utopian works
written during the Christian Middle Ages. At best the
land of Cockane, the realm of Prester John, and perhaps Dante's scheme for a universal monarchy show
that a glimmer of utopianism persisted.
The Renaissance, which gave expression to so many
new currents of optimism and secularism, saw a rebirth
of utopian writing. Nicholas of Cusa in. the fifteenth
century postulated a semi-utopian order embracing all
mankind in a world in which politics and religion had
ceased to be disruptive forces. The burgeoning life of
Italian city estates led men such as Leonardo da Vinci
to think about remaking their world. The utopianism
of such artists and architects, if it can be called that,
was a reflection of urban growth. Its character has been
nicely summed up by Eugenio Garin (in Les atopies
it la renaissance, "La cite 'ideale de la renaissance
italienne," p. 35). What mattered to these men were
earthly ends and values. Political reorganization was
to be the strategy to achieve them. Their plans were
instinct with urban life and reflected its problems, notably international, and class conflict.
Urban development and consciousness provided but
one stimulus to the production of Renaissance utopias.
Religious turmoil, the upheaval of societies occasioned
by economic growth, and the emergence of larger and
stronger states, the exciting voyages of discovery were
potent stimuli to the production of social visions and
precise plans. The pre-Reformation Utopia (1516) of
Sir Thomas More has its roots in all of these elements.
More's projeCtion of the ideal society is qualified in
one important respect: Utopia is the best regime which
fallen sinful men unaided by revelation are capable
of creating. Because it lacks Christianity, it is a
radically imperfect society. It is a proclamation of the
limits of reason and human finitude as well as a statement of social idealism. It is consequently a statement
of Christian humanism exemplifying the new-found
moral and religious earnestness inwhich the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation were rooted. More's
utopian society is one designed to humble the pride
of its citizens through rigid cont;wls. Its social policies
are ideal solutions to the problems of poverty, economic dislocation, and bad government which sixteenth-century societies knew all too welL The narrator
of the account of the Utopia, Ralph Hythloday, is
presented as having been a companion of the Florentine navigator, Amerigo Vespucci, and himself an even
more remarkable explorer. More's Utopia, like Plato's

Republic, set a pattern and a style for the genre which


was by and large unchanged until the late eighteenth
century. The timeless, static society in which history
is discounted, the totalitarian patterns of control, the
location of the society in the present but in a remote,
unexplored area, the concern with communism, natural
religion, and the overcoming of the problem of economic scarcity by means of a strict control of production, distribution or population-all
these became
hallmarks of the genre in the sixteenth century.
Seventeenth-century utopias are perhaps the most
fascinating of any period because they reveal so fully
the intellectual currents of the time. The first important
one of the century was Tommaso Campanella's Civitas
solis (The City of the Sun, 1602-27). Betraying an
interest in astrology, hermeticism, and esoteric knowledge, his work also shows this defender of Galileo to
have been an ardent proponent of the new science and
a reviler of Aristotle. Campanella's vision possesses an
almost chiliastic dimension, for the future includes
great changes, even the establishment of a universal
Christian monarchy. Campanella's world is one replete
with inventions in which new scientific knowledge is
applied for man's welfare, but more interesting is his
changed attitude toward the future and the sense of
destiny, almost progress, which hangs over the world
at the end of his book:
Indeed, since these people, who know only the natural law,
so closely approach Christianity, which adds to the laws
of nature only the sacraments, which give aid in observing
these laws, I deduce the valid argument in favor of the
Christian religion that it is the truest of all and that when
its abuses have been removed it will be mistress over the
whole world, as the more outstanding theologians teach and
hope. They say that this is the reason the Spaniards discovered the New World (although the first discoverer is our
great Genoese hero Columbus): that the whole world may
be gathered under one law. Therefore, these philosophers
must be witnesses of the truth, chosen by God: From this
I realize that we do not know what we are doing but are
the instruments of God. Those men seek new regions, led
on by their desire for gold and riches; but God has a higher
end in view. The sun attempts to burn up the earth, not
to produce plants, men, etc., but God uses the struggle
between it and them for the production of the latter things.
Praise and glory to Him! (see Negley and Patrick, p. 345,
trans. W. T. Gilstrap).

This is a far more positive attitude toward history and


the possibilities of human life than More could have
imagined.
The early German utopist, Johann Andreae, whose
Christianopolis (1619) appeared before the final version
of Campanella's work, resembled the Italian monk in
many ways. Andreae had been a Rosicrucian and his

461

UTOPIA

462

esoteric interests mingle with an interest in the new


science. His utopia, while less scientifically sophisticated than Campanella's or Bacon's New Atlantis,
possesses laboratories staffed with scientists (or perhaps
one should say natural magicians). This friend and
correspondent of Kepler also tried to wed the new
science to Christian beliefs and to design a system "to
lessen the burden of our mortality."
Bacon's New Atlantis is not essentially different in
aim though its reputation and effectiveness have been
much greater because of the celebrity of Bacon's philosophical and methodological writings. Like the others,
he wrote to show how a Christian society could be
improved by increased knowledge and a better technology. There is, however, a fideistic streak in Bacon's
thought which tended to separate the natural and
supernatural realms that blend so easily in The City
of the Sun or later in Samuel Hartlib's Description of
the Famous Kingdom of Macaria (1641), a work written
"to propagate religion and to endeavour the reformation of the whole world" through sound learning, well
taught and made fruitful in practice. Bacon's description of Salomon's House, the first research institute
dedicated to the advancement of learning by cooperative scientific endeavor in the interest of beneficial
technological application, provided images of purpose
and organization which inspired men as diverse as the
Christian virtuosi who founded the Royal Society of
London (1662) and the rather less pious authors of the
great French encyclopedia edited by Denis Diderot
and Jean le Rond d' Alembert.
This interest in science and utopian writing was not
confined to the sober and successful only. Gerrard
Winstanley, the Digger, in The Law of Freedom (1651)
and other tracts, designed plans for the millennium
which included a place for science and secular learning.
He and other millenarians who surfaced in the turmoil
of mid-seventeenth-century
England, were forerunners
of those nineteenth-century
sectarians who thought,
like the Shakers, that they were living in a postmillennial age. Christian sensibilities got utopian dress of a
more conventional sort in Robert Burton's short sketch,
"Democritis Junior to the Reader," included in his
Anatomy of Melancholy (1620). This utopian work of
erudition and realism is interesting in its attempts to
make reforms plausible by citing authorities
and
historical precedents
for many of his suggested
innovations.
James Harrington's Oceana (165.6), another work of
great analytic realism, adopts a similar stance in its
polemics against divine-right monarchists, Thomas
Hobbes, and theocratic sectaries. Oceana, like other
utopian works by Harrington, is most concerned with
the problems of political stability, constitutional forms,

and the economic foundations of both. Harrington's


republicanism, his concern with agriculture, public
order, toleration and a religious establishment which
could not be fractious, and above all his earnest realism
combine to make him an attractive thinker despite the
dullness of his books.
Seventeenth-century
utopias include two other types
requiring notice. The Histoire comique ou voyage dans
la lune (1650) of Cyrano de Bergerac and Gabriel de
Foigny's Terra Australis incognita (1676) both describe
utopias in which a wide range of questions is pursued
in a rationalistic fashion. Such works look forward to
the philosophic tale of the Enlightenment. By the end
of the century a critique of Christianity in the form
of deism had found expression in numerous works of
which Simon Tysot de Patot's Voyageset aventures de
Jacques Masse (1710) is perhaps the best known.
. The succeeding age, the Enlightenment,
saw the
development of most of its cherished beliefs in numerous utopias. Deism continued to appear as the religion
~ of the truly wise. Utopias, which had always been
moral, even strenuously so, became happy places, and
it was clear that this happiness would be the product
of sensual gratification as it was for Diderot's Tahitians
in Supplement au voyage de Bougainville (The Supplement to Bougainoille's Voyage, 1772). Another change
which is noticeable in eighteenth-century
utopias is the
greater equality of their inhabitants;
some were
communist societies with complete equality as a
corollary. As a consequence the attitude toward labor
tends to change as well. Earlier works had required
labor as a discipline or moral good; many had relegated
manual labor to a specific class. Eighteenth-century
writers tended to see it as creative and not degrading.
In real life the power of states over their subjects was
increasing; a similar trend prevails in the utopias of
the time as well. Morelly's Code de la nature (1755)
offers a view of a static society which is highly regimented in the interest of a communist egalitarianism.
The greatest and most ingenious of the utopians were
those who placed their utopias in the future and saw
them as the inevitable culmination of human progress.
The first to write a utopia set in the future was Louis
Sebastien Mercier, the author of An 2440 ou Reve s'il
en fut jamais (1770). The conceptual novelty belongs
to his contemporaries,
Baron Anne Robert Jacques
Turgot, Marie Jean Antoine Nicolas de Caritat, Marquis de Condorcet,
Paul Henri Dietrich,
Baron
d'Holbach, and Claude Adrien Helvetius, all of whom
elaborated theories of progress in which secular, dynamic social and psychological forces acted inevitably
to bring about progress in the arts, sciences, and morals.
Condorcet's L'esquisse d'uti tableau historique des
progres de l'esprit humain (1794) contains as its last

UTOPIA
section a sketch of the future state of mankind at last
living freely in a rational and natural social order which
continues to perfect itself. The static mold in which
earlier utopias had been cast was broken. So also was
the isolation of the utopian world for Condorcet's
utopia was to be worldwide although not realizable
at the same rate by all peoples. In England Richard
Price had reached a rather similar conclusion although
he still connected progress with the realization of a
divine providential plan-a plan in which the founding
of the United States and the French Revolution were,
as they were for Condorcet, significant steps into a
bright future.
The eighteenth century also produced a rather
different kind of utopist in the person of Robert
Wallace, a Scottish clergyman and the author of Various Prospects of Mankind, Nature, and Providence
(1761). Wallace believed that utopias could function
as' analytic models helpful to the social theorist.
Utopianism in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was supported not only by a belief in the inevitability of progress, but also by the widely held doctrine
of the malleability or perfectibility of human nature
which implied that men's minds and characters could
be quickly molded by education to be vastly, if not
totally, different from what they were. Utopia could
be quickly built. Nineteenth-century utopists, SaintSimonians, Owenites, and other utopian socialists
tended to concentrate more than their predecessors on
the means of getting to utopia rather than on the
precise form the new society would have. For most,
education was the favored means. Robert Owen spoke
for many when he wrote in the Second Essay of The
New View of Society (1813):
Children are without exception passive and wonderfully
contrived compounds; which, by an accurate previous and
subsequent attention, founded on a correct knowledge of
the subject, may be formed collectively to have any human
character. And although these compounds, like all the other
works of nature possess endless varieties, yet they partake
of that plastic quality, which by perseverance under judicious management, may be ultimately moulded into the very
image of rational wishes and desires.

Education was, however, but one means to this goal.


Some socialists who looked back to the French Revolution found inspiration in the revolutionary ideals and
practices of the Jacobins or of Gracchus Babeuf. For
them political action,even revolution through force,
was the road to utopia. For others, especially Charles
Fourier, the functioning example of a successful
.utopian community or phalanstery would convince
mankind to adopt schemes so obviously good.
Nineteenth-century utopias display another charac-

teristic generally lacking in earlier works: they are


much more optimistic about the possibilities of human
betterment. Utopists of the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries dreamt of making men good and happy; their
nineteenth- and twentieth-century successors dreamt
of overcoming disease and death to say nothing of poverty, disorder, ignorance, and crime. Science, technology, and new social institutions to promote both could
lead to abundance while machines, relieving men of
toil, would allow all to develop mentally and spiritually. A somewhat greater interest in the control of
economic and political relationships tended to make
utopian and socialist identical for many in the nineteenth century. Because of this identity utopian ideas
became for the first time politically effective. By 1900
utopian thought had in this way affected the views of
many in Europe and North and South America. Indeed,
socialism in America in 1890 meant not Marxism but
the views of Edward Bellamy, whose utopia, Looking
Backward (1888), became a best seller, provoked much
controversy, and was translated into many languages.
Throughout the last years of the nineteenth century,
Looking Backward and Theodor Hertzka's Freeland
(1891)-a more or less free-enterprise utopia located
in Africa as befitted a work coming during the
imperialist scramble for African territory-found
not
only readers but enthusiastic supporters gathered in
clubs to promote the competing ideologies.
The twentieth century has produced more utopias
than had been written by 1900. Indeed, F. T. Russell
estimated in 1932 that "the eighteenth century produced as many as the sixteenth and seventeenth together, that the nineteenth almost tripled that number,
and that the twentieth [had then seen J . . : almost as
many as the nineteenth" (F. T. Russell, p. 307). Divided
about equally between the political "right" and "left"
these works have come mainly from the pens of
Frenchmen, Englishmen, and Americans outside the
South. One might surmise that maritime activity, religious belief, the freedom of the press, and a lively
political environment which allowed widespread
involvement in political action as well as economic
dynamism had something to do with both the geographic distribution of utopists and the rate of utopian
publications. Perhaps increasing alienation and political frustration have been factors, since many recent
utopias have been thinly disguised political tracts.
While utopian writings have been concomitants of
social and ideological change, it is not clear that the
increase has been greater than the increase in the
reading public or the number of authors. It may be
that the urge to write utopias is a constant product
of social idealism, revulsion at inefficiency, waste, and
disorder, and a desire to do something about these evils

463

UTOPIA

464

even though the required or envisioned remedies are


of a magnitude which engenders as much pessimism
and frustration as reforming zeal. Whatever the reason
for the increased number of utopias, it has not resulted
in literary greatness or substantial novelty.
H. G. Wells and Burrhus Frederic Skinner have been
the most interesting and creative of the utopists of this
century. Wells blended science fiction, prophecy, and
realistic social analysis to produce works more predictive than utopian. He has had many imitators. Scientific
achievement has already outrun his fantasies and
verified Oscar Wilde's quip, "Progress is the realization
of utopia." B. F. Skinner's Walden II (1947) is interesting because of its stress on the techniques of behavioristic social engineering which for this pioneering
behaviorist psychologist open the way to utopia.
If twentieth-century
utopists have not provided
much of interest, the same cannot be said of the antiutopians whose parodies of the genre have subjected
it to searching and destructive criticism in many
dystopias or anti-utopias. There have always been
anti-utopians-realists,
cautious reformers, doubters of
man's ability to achieve rationality, questioners of the
possibility of an harmonious natural social order, and
most importantly scoffers who have maintained that
the achievement of utopists' dreams would be living
nightmares. They have been a small but respectable
company, including Aristophanes, Jonathan Swift, perhaps Voltaire, Samuel Butler, and in the twentieth
century E. M. Forster, Evelyn Waugh, Evgeni
Zamyatin, George Orwell, and Aldous Huxley. The
grim visions of a likely future, all too rational and
orderly, which these men have conjured up have made
dystopias rather than utopias of more interest since
1930.
Utopian writings have played many roles in Western
thought. Some belong to the literature of whimsy and
escape, others to science fiction, a considerable number
to satire, and many to that ill-defined genre, the philosophic tale. Utopias have appeared in almost every
literary form-travels,
letters, visions, dialogues,
novels, treatises, and in both prose and verse. They
have been the vehicles of seriously argued religious,
political, and philosophic views set out didactically in
a succinct and interesting manner and of propaganda.
Many have sought to move men to action, while others
have been visions for contemplation, dreams to think
on. They virtually defy orderly classification, though
some writers have tried to divide them into restrictive,
rigidly controlled societies, totalitarian in their social
policies, or expansive realms of freedom knowing only
a minimum of control. This division coincides roughly
with a division between those .dn which harmony,

statically conceived, is maintained by the repression


of spontaneity, and those in which perfection is seen
as a relative condition dependent upon progress and
individual freedom of choice and action. The static,
dynamic, repressive, and expansive characteristics may
owe something to the kind of men who have written
utopias and the role which these works played in their
own lives and perhaps also in those of their readers.
There have been few literary masterpieces among
the utopias, perhaps because it is difficult to write
interestingly of perfection, of states without the usual
conflicts which form the stuff of romance and tragedy.
Moreover, the characters in utopian works must be
types, exemplifying classes, so they often lackdndividuality. Nevertheless, at their best, utopistshave shared
in most of the great intellectual debates' and their works
have often been not only stimulants to change but
.prophetic of the future.
BIBLIOGRAPHY
Bibliographical works. G. Negley, The Utopia Collection
of Duke University Library (Durham, N.C., 1965), contains
over 500 titles. United States Library of Congress, Public
Affairs Information
Service, Division of Bibliography,
Utopias (Washington, 1922, 1924, 1926, 1928).
Anthologies of utopian writings containing bibliographical information. H. C. Baldry, Ancient Utopias (Southampton, 1956). G. Boas and A. O. Lovejoy, Primitivism and
Related Ideas in Antiquity (Baltimore, 1935), the standard
source for selections and references dealing with "the
Golden Age." F. E. and F. P. Manuel, French Utopias: An
Anthology of Ideal Societies (New York, 1966), mainly
eighteenth- and nineteenth-century
selections. G. Negley
and J. M. Patrick, The Quest for Utopia: An Anthology of
Imaginary Societies (New York, 1952), contains all or parts
of thirty-three utopias and lists the titles of over 100 other
utopias and dystopias as well as major secondary sources
to 1950.
General works bearing on utopian writing containing
bibliographical information. G. Atkinson, The Extraordinary
Voyage in French Literature before 1700 (New York, 1920);
idem, The Extraordinary Voyage in French Literature from
1700 to 1720 (Paris, 1922). W. Bentley, The Communication
of Utopian Thought: Its History, Forms, and Use (San
Francisco, 1955). M. Buber, Paths in Utopia (London, 1949).
N. Cohn, The Pursuit of the Millennium, 2nd ed. (New York,
1961). G. D. H. Cole, A History of Socialist Thought: The
Forerunners 1779-1850 (London, 1955). R. C. Elliot, The
Shape of Utopia: Studies in a Literary Genre (Chicago, 1970).
N. Eurich, Science in Utopia: A Mighty Design (Cambridge,
1967), is necessary reading for those interested in seventeenth-century
utopias.
Federation
International
des
Instituts et Societes pour l'Etude de la Renaissance, Les
utopies la renaissance: colloque international (Liege, 1963);
twelve essays dealing with Nicholas of Cusa, Robert Burton,

UT PICTURA POESIS
Jerome Cardan, Thomas More, Kaspar Stiblin, Johann
Andreae, Rabelais,
and others. S. R. Graubard,
ed.,
Daedalus, 94, 2, The Proceedings of the American Academy
of Arts and Sciences: Utopia (Richmond, 1965), thirteen
papers on various topics concerning utopia. J. O. Hertzler,
The History of Utopian Thought (New York, 1923), dated
but still useful. G. Kateb, Utopia and Its Enemies (Glencoe,
1963). H. Kern, Staatsutopie und allgemeine Staatslehre: ein

Beitrag zur allgemeine Staatslehre unter besonderer Berucksichtigung von Thomas Morus und H. G. Wells (Mainz?
1951?). H. Levin, The Myth of the Golden Age in the
Renaissance (Bloomington, 1969). K. Mannheim, Ideologie
und Utopie (Bonn, 1929), trans. as Ideology and Utopia
(London, 1936). A. E. Morgan, Nowhere and Somewhere:
How History Makes Utopias and How Utopias Make History
(Chapel Hill, 1946), argues that More's Utopia betrays
European knowledge of Peru prior to its conquest. M. H.
Nicolson, Voyages to the Moon (New York, 1948). F. T.
Russell, Touring Utopia (New York, 1932). J. Servier,Histoire
de l'utopie (St. Arnaud, 1967). J. Shklar, After Utopia
(Princeton, 1957). J. L. Talmon, The Origins of Totalitarian
Democracy (London, 1951), has an excellent section on how
the eighteenth-century
utopians conceived of a natural,
rational political order. S. L. Thrupp, Millennial Dreams
in Action (The Hague, 1962). E. L. Tuveson, Millennium

and Utopia: A Study in the Background of the Idea of


Progress, 2nd ed.r(New York, 1964). C. Walsh, From Utopia
to Nightmare (New York, 1962).
Studies of utopists

and utopias.

W. H. G. Armytage,

Heavens Below: Utopian Experiments in England 1560-1960


(London and Toronto, 1961). A. E. Bestor, Backwoods
Utopias: The Sectarian and Owenite Phases of Communitarian Socialism in America 1663-1829 (Philadephia, 1950),
is particularly good on early American communities. C.
Blitzer, An Immortal Commonwealth: The Political Thought
of James Harrington (New Haven, 1960). E. R. Curtis, A
Season in Utopia: The Story of Brook Farm (New York, 1961).
J. H. Hexter, More's Utopia: The Biography of an Idea
(Princeton, 1952). R. V. Hine, California's Utopian Communities (San Marino, 1953). H. J. N. Horsburgh, "The
Relevance of the Utopian," Ethics (1967), 127-38.R. Owen,

Utopianism and Education: Robert Owen and the Owenites,


J. F. C. Harrison (New York, 1968). F. E. Manuel, The
Prophets of Paris (Cambridge, 1962). Morelly, Code de la
Nature ... avec une introduction et des notes par Gilbert
Chinard (Paris, 1950). C. Nordhoff, The Communist Societies
of the United States (New York, 1875; 1961; 1965), a famous
ed.

eyewitness account of the American communities in 1874.


H. Noyes, History of American Socialisms (New York,
1870; 1961), by the leader of the Oneida Community. C.
Rihs, "Les Utopistes contre les lumieres," Studies on Voltaire
and the Eighteenth Century, 57 (1967), 1321-55. J: Shklar,

J.

Men and Citizens: A Study of Rousseau's Social Theory


(Cambridge, 1969), a study of utopian elements in Rousseau's works. E. L. Surtz, S. J., The Praise of Wisdom: A

Commentary on the Religious and Moral Problems and


Backgrounds of St. Thomas More's Utopia (Chicago, 1957).
L. G. Thompson, Ta t'ung shu: The One World Philosophy

of K'ang Yu Wei (London, 1958). D. Winston, Iambulus,


A Literary Study in Greek Utopianism (Ann Arbor, 1956).
P. Yershov, Science Fiction and Utopian Fantasy in Soviet
Literature (New York, 1954).
ROGER L. EMERSON
[See also City; MilIenarianism;
Perfectibility;
Renaissance; Sin and Salvation; Socialism.]

Progress;

UT PICTURA POESIS
Ut pictura poesis: "as is painting so is poetry," is
often either implicitly or explicitly reversed to "as is
poetry so is painting," to indicate an extended analogy,
if not an identification, between the two media. This
classical theory of parallels between the arts was
widely held and developed, especially from the Middle
Ages through the Enlightenment, and served as the
testing ground for theories of imitation and as the
incubator for systematic aesthetics. The discussions
often revolved around "natural" (painting) and
"arbitrary" (language) signs and symbols, and the questions, usually unstated until the eighteenth century,
were "How does painting or poetry communicate?"
and "What are the limits of each medium in time and
space?"
Particular emphasis was always placed on the ability
of the poet (or orator) to make his listener see the
object, and of the painter to make his viewer understand meaning as well a~agine
action. The usual
major developments of the parallel include the principles that both arts are imitative aud that their subjects
must be significant and unified human actions, usually
drawn from history, epics, romances, and the Bible.
They must, therefore, express moral or psychological
truths, hold to consistency or "decorum," and offer to
instruct, to delight, and to move, although these ends
and their relative importance were much disputed.
There were fairly regular demands that the painter as
well as the poet possess "learning," along with innate
capacity and technical training. Theorists were usually
interested in justifying the arts in general, especially
in the face of criticism from historians and philosophers
who challenged their utility and morality.
The theory of ut pictura poesis is applied in many
ways. It may mean that the poet, without any real
attempt to compete with the painter, should give
enough concrete detail for the reader to form an accurate and vivid picture. This position. was particularly
common in the early eighteenth century, especially
when critics examined the nature of metaphor. An

465