The Utopians wonder that there is any man who delights in the faint gleam of a little gem when he can look at some star or even the sun itself. They marvel that there is any man so foolish as to think himself the nobler because of the fine texture of his woolen clothing. No matter how fine the thread, a sheep once wore it, and the sheep was a sheep still for all its wearing it. They wonder that gold, so useless a thing in itself, is everywhere so highly esteemed that man himself, through whom and by whose use it obtains its value, should be less revered than it. And they do not understand why a blockhead with no more brains than a post, and bad as well as stupid, should have many wise and good men serving him, only because he happens to own a great sum of gold. If he should lose all his money to some utterly worthless fellow in his household, either by some chance or by a legal trick (which can produce changes as great as chance does), he would soon become one of this fellow’s servants, as though he belonged to the money and was bound to follow its fortune. . . .
The Utopians have absorbed these and similar attitudes partly from their education, for they are brought up amidst customs and institutions quite opposed to such folly. They have also acquired these notions from their learning and literature. . . .
In their moral philosophy, they argue much as we do. They consider what things are truly good, both for the body and the mind, and whether it is proper to call external things good or only the gifts of the mind. They inquire into the nature of virtue and pleasure. But their chief concern is about human happiness, whether it consists of one thing or of many. They seem much inclined to the view that all or most of human happiness lies in pleasure. And what may seem strange, they seek support for their pleasure philosophy from religion, which is serious and stern, somewhat severe and forbidding. For they never discuss happiness without combining the rational principles of philosophy with principles taken from religion. They think any inquiry concerning true happiness weak and defective unless it is based on religion. —from Utopia (1515)