Utopia: a term coined by Sir Thomas More to describe an imaginary ideal state or condition.
According to Plato, Socrates one day outlined the perfect human existence, or Utopia as Thomas More much later described it. Socrates said that in this ideal society, people would produce sitos ( cereals and grains that were the staples of Ancient Greek cuisine), wine , clothes and shoes. They would dine on gruels while reclining on couches of myrtle and moss, drinking, wearing garlands and singing. Socrates’ friend Glaukon remonstrated with him saying that he was depriving people of opsos, the tidbits of meat , fish and other goodies that make the sitos palatable. No, said Socrates, they would have opsos; salt, oil, cheese and vegetables.
In other words, Socrates was making into luxuries, foods that most of us would consider necessities.The Utopian existence that Socrates subscribed to would strike us as unnecessarily spartan. For a philosopher like Socrates whose greatest delight was conversation or discourse , such a regimen would satisfy basic needs while leaving free time for intellectual pursuits.However, such a basic menu would leave the rest of us feeling deprived. One man’s ‘luxury’ is another man’s ‘necessity’ for contentment.We may all condemn Timarchos of Athens as a spendthrift for squandering his inheritance on lavish dinner parties, courtesans and gambling but the dividing line between ‘necessity’ and ‘luxury’ is blurred and often changes with our personal circumstances.