Utopia in Mind: An Inevitable Consequence of Human Cognition?

Jeanette Emt and Sverre Sjölander

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Keywords: Evolutionary biology, cognition, cognitive ethology, Psychobiology, Utopia, Human internal and external improvement, Scientific world-view, Artistic perfection, Political action, Leadership.

: The dream of a better or perfect world, Utopia, seems to be inescapable for humans. We have the cognitive capacity to imagine any conceivable future. This capacity, needed for complex social interaction, hunting, and gathering, has as a byproduct given us the everpresent notion of a better state, internally or externally. With this notion in mind, we seek ways of improving the inner world (e.g. through meditative or ascetic self-control, use of mind-expanding drugs, etc.) and the external world (via science, engineering, artistic practice, political action, etc.). Another byproduct is the multitude of prophets and political leaders with their minds set on realizing their Utopias at any cost. The evolutionary history of our cognition is also mirrored both in our willingness to follow such leaders and in their will to power.

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Jeanette Emt
Department of Philosophy
Lund University.

Sverre Sjölander
Department of Biology
Linköping University.

Spinning Ideas, Electronic Essays
Dedicated to Peter Gärdenfors on His Fiftieth Birthday