Course Summary

Towards Utopia

Unit 1 - Homo sapiens

In A Modern Utopia, published by T Fisher Unwin London in 1905, H G Wells described The Owner of the Voice, the teller of the story about the modern Utopia. He describes the person who is telling the story and asks the reader to picture him - Him you must imagine as sitting at a table reading a manuscript about Utopias, a manuscript he holds in two hands that are just a little fat at the wrist. Figure this owner of the Voice as sitting, a little nervously, a little modestly, on a stage, with a table, glass of water and all complete?.

H G Wells himself, the author, he describes as "the intrusive chairman insisting with bland ruthlessness upon his 'few words' of introduction before he recedes into the wings". But he adds another 'earthly person' who he calls 'the botanist' who will not speak to the reader but will have many discussions with the Owner of the Voice as the two men explore the Modern Utopia.

Like H G Wells, I wrote Towards Utopia in an attempt to clarify my own thinking on issues associated with social and political questions. Writing over 100 years after H G Wells, I have been able to draw on a huge resource, all the accumulated knowledge over that period of time. I have focused on the nature of morality and whether or not it would be possible to develop a moral code that has natural rather than supernatural foundations. I have been able to bring together several current fields of thought about how the human brain functions, advances in knowledge of animal and plant behaviour, human behaviour in group and social settings and the current behaviour of world and country leaders.

Unlike H G Wells I have not used any story-telling devices. I have attempted to involve the reader, in what I hope is active participation in thinking through the issues raised, by frequently referring to what "we" are doing and thinking but, particularly in the final chapter, I have voiced my opinion.

This story is not intended as refutation of religious beliefs and practices as I believe that every person has the right to adopt his/her own beliefs without criticism for doing so. However, since the Utopian conditions described are not based on religious scriptures and practices, I have no doubt that the work will be described by many as atheistic and anti-religious. That is consistent with the nature of Homo sapiens as we know that species.

Unit 2 - Behaviourial sciences

The behavioural sciences developed over the past 200 years from the Enlightenment through the emergence of social studies with the aid of statistics to modern day psychology and learning theory. Studies of animal behaviour and comparative cognition  have revealed levels of thinking and learning previously regarded as impossible in animals.

Unit 3 - Cognition

We now know a great deal about how people learn and think due to studies conducted by researchers, particularly in recent years. Studies of human intelligence have lead to attempts to develop artificial intelligence using machines that can think and solve problems.

Unit 4 - Social behaviour

Moral behaviour has long been associated with the influence of the inner self and the desire to attain a moral and just society. Natural selection leads to survival of both fittest individuals and fittest groups. Communication within social groups determines the moral behaviour of their members which, unfortunately, may not be in the best interest of society in general.

Unit 5 - The brain

A great deal in now known about how the human brain functions and its structure. The brain develops from birth and reaches maturity at much the same time as the body. Brains in other animals have similar structures and functions to the human brain. Conscious decision-making and resultant behaviour are to a large extent dependent upon the neurons present in the brain and how well they are functioning.

Unit 6 - Seeking Utopia

The behaviour of people in society leaves much to be desired as we are both the noblest and the basest of all animals, so in our Utopia people will need rules to follow. We seek a moral and just society in which people can live safely and in harmony with both others and the environment. Our proposed Utopian philosophy argues that our members not only need to be good but should also do good, to the benefit of themselves, other people, other living things and the world in which we all live.

Unit 7 - A value system

We need to decide which qualities we value most highly and therefore would want supported in our Utopia. We start by choosing and describing Beauty, Harmony and Truth and link them to Platonic ideas. The qualities of Beauty and Harmony are associated with the Arts and the Fine Arts, merging into Truth, the product of reason, number and Science. They will add quality to whatever moral codes we may decide to adopt and follow.

Unit 8 - Some More Values

Three more qualities are described, this time selected from what has been developed by our species– Education, Order and Technology. We outline what should be taught in our schools, how it should be taught and the effectiveness of education in raising the level of literacy in the population. Maintaining order through well-designed legal and law enforcements systems must be part of our ideal society. Technology that will improve living conditions and communication, enable us to live well as individuals and ensure the survival of our species will be essential.

Unit 9 - Working together

We value working together for mutual benefit and many examples of working together in the natural world are given. Working together in social groups has an overwhelming influence on behaviour including that of  ants, bees and other social insects. Many human organisations have been formed and operate for the benefit of their members. Others operate entirely for the benefit of others. Members of yet other organisations work together to benefit other living things. Concern for the environment tends to focus on the effects on humans but it is more than that as the environment includes all living organisms and their physical surroundings, all working together producing the world in which we live.

Unit 10 - The world in which we live

Having developed our philosophy and value system we now look at how people are living on this planet, rather than think about setting up our Utopia elsewhere. We were pleasantly surprised to find that people in many countries have already moved a long way in the direction in which we want to go. We will not have to leave Planet Earth after all. The whole world now appears to be moving in the direction that we find desirable – towards Utopia. That is good, very good.