The Praise of Wisdom: A Commentary on the Religious and Moral Problems and Backgrounds of St. Thomas More's Utopia

The Praise of Wisdom: A Commentary on the Religious and Moral Problems and Backgrounds of St. Thomas More's Utopia

The Praise of Wisdom: A Commentary on the Religious and Moral Problems and Backgrounds of St. Thomas More's Utopia

The Praise of Wisdom: A Commentary on the Religious and Moral Problems and Backgrounds of St. Thomas More's Utopia

Excerpt

The author of The Praise of Wisdom endeavors to study religion and morality in St. Thomas More's Utopia: their meaning and their import in relation to the contemporary scene. It is probably the first work to examine the pertinent sections in the Utopia point by point and to determine the relation of each point to fifteenth-century and sixteenth-century formulations of Catholic teaching. Emphasis, of course, is laid upon the doctrine of the Christian humanists, especially Erasmus; but, when necessary and justified, recourse is had to pagan classics, church fathers, and medieval theologians. More's Catholicism cannot be reasonably called into question. Here an attempt is made to define the extent of More's religious conservatism or radicalism, approval or criticism, submission or rebellion, at the time of the composition of Utopia, which was published on the eve of the Protestant Reformation.

The procedure for religious problems differs slightly from that for moral problems. In general, the order of the Utopia itself is followed in the discussion of religious or theological ideas, although it is not perfectly logical and systematic at times. The method, however, helps to an appreciation of More's own sequence of thought. Thomas More, of course, does not treat the moral or ethical problems connected with religion in one place; consequently they have to be lifted from the sections where they occur.

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