A lecture from an Art History class
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Listen to part of a lecture from an Art History class.
Prof: Good morning. Ready to begin? Today I'd like to complement our study of Romanticism by examining more closely the life of Charles Fourier. That's four like the number, then i-e-r. But, before we study Mr. Fourier, let's review what we know about Romanticism. Who can tell me what Romanticism was, and when it lasted? Yes, Mr. Stiles.
S: Romanticism was a cultural and, um, artistic movement in Europe. It lasted for the first quarter of the 18th - no, I mean 19th -- Century.
P: Very nice, Mr. Stiles. Who would like to summarize the main message of Romanticism? Let's see...Mr. Brown?
S: The main message was probably, um, that artists should, uh, that individuals should, use their imagination to choose the form and content of all art. The Romantics thought that the Enlightenment had kind of choked off imagination, and feeling, and creativity, and, um, like stifled all individual freedom.
P: Well put, Mr. Brown. The Romantics loathed any type of rationalism. The Enlightenment had emphasized rationality and reason so much that the Romantics felt the individual had been demolished, reduced to an automated robot. It was time to liberate the soul, to break away and stand out, to reclaim individual freedom. Rousseau penned the rallying cry in the beginning of his Confessions: "...I am not made like any of those I have seen. I venture to believe that I am not made like any of those who are in existence. If I am not better, at least I am different."
So then, it was against this backdrop that Charles Fourier appeared on the historical stage. Mr. Fourier was what Karl Marx would later dub a utopian socialist. He was one of three main utopian socialists, along with Robert Owen and Henri de Saint-Simon. A utopian socialist, broadly speaking, was someone who employed socialist principles to create hypothetical versions of perfect utopias - um, societies that were egalitarian or communal, in which people would live in perfect fairness and harmony. Utopian philosophers believed these kinds of societies could be achieved in the immediate future. They thus planted the first seeds of the early 20th Century socialist movement.
Monsieur Fourier was born in northeast France on April 7, 1772, and he died in Paris on October 10, 1837. He was widely regarded as the most utopian of the utopian socialists. He argued vigorously, for instance, that women should have equal rights with men - and actually coined our modern word feminism. Also, he thought the industrial revolution that was then taking place in England was simply a passing phase; that mankind would move beyond industrialism to something better. As to what that something better would be, Fourier had some rather unusual ideas. He was born into a well-to-do family of cloth merchants, and after he inherited his mother's estate in 1812, he had the money - and time - to pursue these notions. In his four published works, Fourier laid out a vision of a future community built on emotional bonds, fueled by what he called the laws of "passional attraction." Basic human passions and drives had been repressed for too long, he argued. Now these emotions needed to be openly expressed and harnessed. Men and women would live in self-contained housing units with 1,620 members. Why 1,620? Because Mr. Fourier had determined that people could be classified into 810 different psychological types. If you multiply this by two, for men and women, you get 1,620. With such precise pairing, he was certain that the laws of passional attraction would produce ideal, harmonious relationships.
Many of Fourier's ideas, to be frank, were perfect nonsense. He projected that his new world would last for 80,000 years, the last 8,000 of these in an era of perfect harmony. In this period he predicted, among other things, that six moons would orbit the earth, and the seas would become oceans of lemonade (laughter). But sprinkled amidst his nonsense were enough kernels of fresh thought to qualify Fourier as an instrumental influence on later socialist thinkers, such as Marx and Engels. Many think the most valuable of these kernels was Fourier's idea that work, especially heavy manual labor, could be turned into play: something deeply satisfying both mentally and physically. That was probably the one vision of Fourier's that most captivated later socialist thinkers.
What aspect of Fourier's life is the professor mainly discussing?
What does the professor say about utopian socialists?
According to the professor, what is a feature of Romanticism?
Why does the professor mention moons and lemonade?
What can be inferred from the lecture about Charles Fourier?