From ideal to future cities

science fiction as an extension of utopia

Ugo Bellagamba

pp. 79-96

The future is not a new idea. The philosophers of the Enlightenment freed it of the historic wrappings of Christian eschatology and the notion of Providence itself by rationalising the idea of progress, the possible improvement of Mankind and the terrestrial city that stemmed from it. Making use of the Renaissance, the utopian authors transformed spiritual preparation for the end of time into a view of material, earthly delight made possible by science and scientific research. This ideal was certainly embodied in Francis Bacon's New Atlantis, although Thomas More was the first of all. In passing from work on consciousness to that of the spirit, the utopians of the eighteenth century espoused Reason and soon turned the future into something much more than critical discourse: It became social opportunity, a new political framework. Audaciously shifting the utopia of "elsewhere" (u-topos) to "the future" (u-chronos) in the manner of Louis-Sébastien Mercier or Marquis de Condorcet, the utopians pursued a programme relying on scientific promise: Identify the technological processes of the transformation of reality and spread the word, an aim which would give birth to a new, less discursive, more popular genre—science fiction.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/s13347-016-0213-7

Full citation:

Bellagamba, U. (2016). From ideal to future cities: science fiction as an extension of utopia. Philosophy & Technology 29 (1), pp. 79-96.

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