What are some of the most important ideas advocated in this treatise?
Can you comment on Owen’s style? Is it acessible to his audience? What potential audience do you think he is most likely trying to reach?
How do think his appeals are organized? Does the essay end at an appropriate point?
What does it mean to say that people are trained to commit crimes for which they are later punished?
Who does Owen think should be the effectors of change? (p. 12) How rapidly should change occur? (16; also see second essay, p. 34)
To what extent do you find reasonable his view that children should be taught that “the happiness of self. . . can only be attained by conduct that must promote the happiness of the community”?
What view does Owen have of the likeliness of changes in public opinion? (15) Do you think he was accurate, and if not, what factors may have biased his projections? (p. 43) Can optimistic projections be a rhetorical strategy?
According to Owen, why must education be universal? What are the most important features of the education he advocates? (p. 16)
To what antecedents does Owen appeal for confirmation of the possibility of his theories?
What is Owen’s evidence for his claim that children are not responsible for their own beliefs? (p. 19) What attitudes towards those of other principles or beliefs should children be taught?
Why does Owen oppose conflict of opinions? To what does he attribute society’s absence of socialist principles? (pp. 20-21; 34) What assumptions seem to lie behind his statements about the irreversibility of progress? (34, 44-45)
How do you think Owen’s own background as a manufacturer influences his choice of audience and his self-positioning with respect to them?
What circumstances does Owen believe causes people to commit crimes? (p. 22) Are there unusual features to his views on crime?
How were quarrels lessened in the new society of New Lanark? (p. 29) How were religious dissensions mitigated?
In New Lanark, what was done about “irregular intercourse of the sexes”? How might this have been an unusual response for the time? (30)
To what purposes was the “support fund of the community” used? At what point does Owen feel children are sufficiently old to begin work? What seems to have been common practice before his interventions?
What kind of education was given to young children in New Lanark? What changes were made in the people’s living circumstances? In commerce? (31) Are equivalent forms of town and commercial planning practiced in contemporary society?
At New Lanark, what changes were made in the system of punishments? (33) What results did this effect?
According to Owen, by what policies should the government contribute to social productivity and the absence of crime? (p. 35)
Do you think this essay rises to an effective conclusion?
What topics are introduced or expanded in this essay? (you might especially consider the training of very young children)
In Owen’s perfect society, what part would parents have in the education of their children? (39) What kinds of relaxations and recreations should be provided? (40-42)
Which aspects of contemporary orthodox religion seem contradicted by Owen’s principles? (pp. 41, 43) What does he mean by his arguments to “necessitarianism”? (53-55)
What are some of his principles of early education? (46-47,49; also see essay four, 75-76) Is his a gender-equal society?
How will the education of the poor affect members of other social classes as well? (50) From what class-position does Owen seem to be arguing here?
What seem proofs to Owen of the inherent bigotries of religious systems? (51-52)
What seems Owen’s attitude towards appeals to tradition? (53)
What system of military training or militia does Owen advocate, and on what grounds? (57-58)
What provisions does he think should be made for retirement? Do his justifications for elder care seem convincing? (58-59)
What difficulties does Owen foresee in appealing to the different sectors of the middle-, professional, and upper classes? (60-61) To what audience does he finally appeal?
What new ideas are introduced in this essay? What changes does he wish in gambling laws, alcohol licensing, and the establishment of a national church? What appeals does he make to members of the established churches? What changes does he advocate in children’s education? (75-76) In teacher training? (82-83) In access to higher education? In society’s handling of the labor market? (84-85) (end to laissez-faire) In increasing the food supply? (86-88). To what extent do you think he would approve of our present “welfare” and unemployment programs?
What views does Owen hold on the native inhabitants of North America? (71) What attitudes does he advocate towards non-Christian groups? (71, 72)
With what degree of hopefulness does Owen end the essay?
Final question: Which aspects of Owen’s theories would seem more commonplace today? Which aspects of his theories do you find least and most valuable? If you were to construct a modified Owenism, how might you start?