Spencer’s Social Progress

Author: Herbert Spencer, English philosopher

Context: 1857, prior to Darwin’s “The Origin of Species”, on the tail-end of the first Industrial Revolution

Language: inquisitive and scholarly; here he asked what social progress really meant and whether it should be redefined

Audience: the intelligent but uninformed, more specifically those interested in philosophy and anthropology

Intent: to direct scholars’ attention to another way of thinking about society and social progress; until this time most were under the impression that social progress meant that societies were improving the standard of living.… Read the rest here

The Domostroi, Chapters 35-49

The Domostroi clearly sets out each person’s role in a household. It is very clear on how one should carry themselves and how to act in various situations. In chapter 35, the focus is on how servants should conduct themselves while running errands. They are supposed to be very conservative and follow every instruction given. They are told not to gossip at any point, and to give the utmost respect to whoever they are sent to.… Read the rest here

Domostroi (Chapters 1-18)

The Domostroi represents the many facets of life for the “fortunate few” in Muscovy’s social hierarchy.  Those living under this social system were subjected to strict and detailed standards of behavior and expectations.  We have determined that at the crux of this system was a “culture of fear” that was responsible for ensuring proper social conduct.  This means that this group of people followed the Domostroi‘s guidelines not because it was necessarily beneficial but because they were motivated by fear of consequences.  … Read the rest here

Law and economy in Post-Kievan Rus

The Mongol invasion and occupation of Rus changed the economic structure of the country. People in the countryside needed the protection of nobles. This was essentially the roots of the serf system. The law system had also considerably evolved from past systems. The laws were written out and included provisions such as swearing on a cross, an equivalent to among other things our modern day swearing on the bible, and that all where equal in the eyes of the law.… Read the rest here

Fashioning a Fashionable Soul

Hellbeck’s interpretation of Podlubni’s diaries depict a man trying to conform to the morals of his state. He goes through many organizations and practices so as to become the ideal Soviet citizen. Each attempt is recorded in Podlubni’s diary. But, at a point in the piece, Hellbeck argues that this private journal may not reflect Podlubni’s true thoughts, but his desired thoughts. He introduces the idea that the diary could be Podlubni’s tool of turning himself, of influencing his own nature.… Read the rest here

Location and Utopias

 

For More and Plato, location of a utopia affects its development and success. While More believes that a utopia must be physically separated from other societies, Plato suggests that any society can become a utopia wherever it is located if certain conditions are developed and met over time. More’s utopia is located on a remote island. His placement suggests the utopia cannot be corrupted because its inhabitants are physically separated from others. Essentially, More thought that outside contact corrupts the mind and society.… Read the rest here