Pragmatism, Utopia and Anti-Utopia

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Abstract: Th is paper explores the tension between pragmatism and utopia, especially in the concept of “realistic utopianism”. It argues that historically, the pragmatic and gradualist rejection of utopia has been anti-utopian in eff ect, notably in the case of Popper. More recent attempts to argue in favour of “realistic utopianism” or its equivalent, by writers such as Wallerstein and Rorty are also profoundly anti-utopian, despite Rorty’s commitment to “social hope”. Th ey co-opt the terminology of utopia to positions that are antagonistic to radical alterity. But this is not a necessary response to the utopia/pragmatism tension: Unger, who is explicitly opposed to utopia, in fact proff ers a more sympathetic resolution based on the merits of vision, social improvization and collective learning. Th ese may lie closer to the core of the utopian project as a vehicle for the education of desire than Unger himself recognizes.
Translated title of the contributionPragmatism, Utopia and Anti-Utopia
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42 - 60
Number of pages19
JournalCritical Horizons
Publication statusPublished - May 2008

Bibliographical note

Publisher: Acumen Publishing


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