Family As The Foundation

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate August 2001

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Family as the Foundation The foundation for society is the environment in which people live and grow up. One can't attempt to define what an ideal society is, without defining this aspect of life. The guidelines set out by Thomas More, and Plato are in stark contrast to each other; Plato almost completely abandons the idea of traditional family, while More embraces it. In allowing for a family unit, More creates a more stable foundation for society.

Plato states, ""¦similarly, children shall be held in common, and no parent should know its child, nor child its parent." (Plato 178). Since no child is to be attached to any adult, they won't have a mentor. By depriving a child of a rearing figure they lack stability, and direction. He has a lot of faith in his society, and the fact that he has outlined his society well enough, that limited reinforcement is sufficient.

His foundation is too broad-based to condition an individual to his ideal lifestyle. He provides for a traditional education, but fails in that he can't condition the behaviors of his people.

More, on the other hand, provides a family environment for a child to be brought up in. He takes the opposite approach of Plato. He recognizes that you can't allow for too much freedom, because then the individual will make of the society what he wishes. In having a strong foundation, the family, he is able to instill the ideas of his Utopia from an early age, and everything in their life is in conjunction with his ideas. "Instruction in good manners and pure morals is considered just as important as the accumulation of learning." (More 78). More recognizes that even though a person may be educated in a formal sense, there are other aspects of life that are just as formative.

More discusses the transfer of knowledge from generation to generation, "What is planted in the minds of children lives on in the minds of adults, and it is of great value in strengthening the commonwealth"¦" (More 78), and recognizes that it is vital. "It is in education that disorder can most easily creep in unobserved," (Plato 132). Plato recognizes that education is instrumental in creating a sound community, but doesn't outline, well enough, what will be responsible for this transfer. More establishes a family unit, and that family unit can reinforce what education children get; in Plato's society they have elders to reinforce what is important, but they have no one to continually turn to. He created the Guardian class, which serves as a standard for others, but it is unrealistic to expect all people to follow this example, and the Guardians enforce it.

More also prevents too much subjectivity by having families live in wards. This brings the society together, unlike Plato though there is still a unit that provides security and a resource. The meals further the idea of respecting elders and tradition as Utopia defines it, "All other minors"¦stand in absolute silence. They eat whatever is handed to them"¦" (More 43). Plato doesn't define such parameters, and he doesn't structure social environments so much that they promote the idea of his society.

More outlines a stronger foundation, and he details more aspects of the formative years, and the concept of the family within the society. Plato allows too much freedom, and the individual can be lost. Plato outlines his society as his foundation, whereas More recognizes that you can't give the individual that much credit, and think that they will fall into line because that is what society says. More is more successful in setting up his family because, it works better in conjunction with the rest of his society.