Cosmopolitical Utopias

ancient future utopias

“Four Cosmopolitical Utopias: Marcus Aurelius, Longinus, Plotinus, Saint Paul” – (UTP), The Journal of Utopian Studies, 2011 (submitted).

By Katelis Viglas


It will be demonstrated here, by the development of the thought of four writers’ thought—Marcus Aurelius, Longinus, Plotinus, the St. Paul—and the comparison between them, that the term cosmopolis was another word for the Absolute. From this point of view, this concept was intrinsic in every philosophical thought that aimed at universality. But exactly because the cosmopolitical dream subjects human needs and purposes to a universal plan, it all too often generates a totalitarian character: human personalities very probably would be suppressed, lost, or destroyed, if such a nightmarish utopia were to be realized someday. This inevitable consequence of thought can be combined with a philosophical, aesthetical, and religious desire for the domination of Reason, the Sublime, the One, and God. The bearers and creators of plans for cosmopolis were those who believed and considered that the essence of such a utopia leads to the perfection of humanity. As power and freedom are mingled in this ideal, as in reality the project of a cosmopolis constitutes an impossible vision of thought, a visualization of a perfect point, which the polis can hypothetically reach. We will examine, a) the form those writers visualized and believed the absolute utopia should take, and b) how they thought it would be possible to participate in such a reality from now onward. The above four writers, who lived in the first three centuries of our era, conceived their ideal intellectually, and the historical reality, where they lived, played a role in its shaping. The existence of these concepts in their minds influenced the terrestrial city, while in reverse, the cities, in their historical evolution, generated their projection to the cosmos.