Dreams or Nightmares

Part of the Clinical Sociology: Research and Practice book series (CSRP)


It became a mantra among us. Both of my college roommates and I had been philosophy majors. As a result, when we moved in together, it was like joining a free-floating seminar on just about everything. Night after night we would discuss the fate of the world until six o’clock in the morning. If some idea struck us as particularly inane we would ridicule it, in our superannuated adolescent fashion, by invoking the above injunction against eating beans. One of us had encountered it while reading ancient Greek philosophy and it seemed to epitomize the sort of foolishness that thousands of people take seriously. As we were later to discover, ideals, though they make admirable rallying points, when closely inspected, frequently fail the intelligibility test. Oftentimes downright squirrelly, they are not so much visions of a transcendent epoch to come as cartoon illusions dressed up to look substantial. Purporting to be solid and luminous, they tend instead to be dramatically incomplete and dangerously misleading.


Cultural Revolution Great Leap German People Sexual Liberation Ancient Greek Philosophy 
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Notes and References

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    For an extensive survey of utopianism see: Manuel, F. E. & Manuel F. P. (1979). Utopian Thought in the Western World. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press.Google Scholar
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    This seems to be the same attitude as displayed in Proudhon and Rousseau. Both deride property as an artificial invention that discourages sharing. See: Proudhon, P. J. [1840] (1994). What Is Property? Edited and translated by Donald R. Kelly & Bonnie G. Smith. New York: Cambridge University Press; Rousseau, Jean-Jacques [1762] (1913). The Social Contract. In G. D. H. Cole (Ed.), The Social Contract and Discourses. London: Dent.Google Scholar
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    The standard social work interpretation is that the historic distinction between the deserving and the undeserving poor is invalid. For dissenting views see: Gordon, L. (1994). Pittied But Not Entitled: Single Mothers and the History of Welfare. New York: Free Press; Olasky, M. (1992). The Tragedy of American Compassion. Washington, D.C.: Regnery.Google Scholar

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© Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers 1999

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