The curious enlightenment of Professor Caritat – Steven Lukes

This books was recommended to me by one of my teachers at university and I really liked it! 

Inspired by Voltaire’s Candide, Steven Lukes combines theory and fiction to explore complex but nonetheless important political and social concepts. The main character, Nicholas Caritat is a professor of the Enlightenment who is sent on a mission to find the best possible world to live in. Coming from Militaria, an oppressive regime run by the Pessimists, he will embark on a journey to visit different countries: Utilitaria where its citizens are obsessed with producing the greatest utility, Communitaria in which multilculturalism and equality thrive and finally Libertaria, a country where nothing matters except the individual. 

Ultimately, the novel explores the ideas of John Stuart Mill, Jeremy Bentham, Marx, Plato, Rousseau and Montesquieu. Professor Caritat indirectly analyzes the pros and cons of each country’s “ideology” by deciding which one is best to live in. 

I personally liked the novel because it introduced me to interesting ideas and simplified their meaning in an imaginative way. However, I found some ideas to be too abstract to create an accurate political and legal system as attempted through the country-system. 

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