what is the difference between paradise & utopia?


from my first impression, utopia is more of an ideal state, political, architectural, philsophical...etc

while paradise is more of state of mind or drug related...

any thoughts?

i'm interested to know since i always heard of architects saying designing utopia but never paradise...


Jun 27, 09 5:35 am

btw, i'm planning to design a paradise^^

Jun 27, 09 5:37 am

paradise, i've always equated to a biblical context.

Jun 27, 09 6:11 am

utopia is a place that was once a shit-hole turned into a 'utopia' ...

paradise, was always a 'utopia' and still is. henceforth heaven is paradise..

utopia, is when some ass holes on earth get their act together and allow for peace.

Jun 27, 09 7:05 am

utopia is more versatile because "dys" and "u" are interchangeable. If you can do that with paradise, I don't know how.

Jun 27, 09 7:25 am

Paradise implies more of a religeous connotation. Something that god created that we either lost or can attain. There are different versions and different ways to attain it depending on whatever religion you might choose.

Utopia is more of a man made concept. If people would just change their thinking about themselves and their society, we could make a better world.

In my opinion, one of the biggest reasons we haven't reached a Utopian society is because too many people are still hoping for a Paradise so never even try.

Jun 27, 09 4:42 pm
Cacaphonous Approval Bot

in some recent architectural thinking, utopia and utopian are words used to disignate a situation in which all conflicts are resolved - social, conceptual, etc., including the relation of things represented to things built. The words designate an impossible dream with an emphasis on the impossibility of resolving whatever terms one is considering. It changes from Thomas More to Manfredo Tafuri et. al.

As to paradise? Its not something I've ever thought about.
I'd recommend you re-think your design idea and go do some research.

Jun 27, 09 5:21 pm

Para (greek for beyond, by or near) - dise (greek-- Deixis [δειξις]-- for point of reference, display; modern usage is denunciation of place... and/or deosis which is greek for park.

So, rough translation and all, a paradise is beyond here in reference.

There is a greek word that's compounded-- paradeixis-- proof, establishment of a fact.

It's closely related with "homoiôsis-- establishment of a resemblance" and "endeixis-- demonstration, display of one's good will."

So, the term paradise might mean a place beyond ours where you prove or display one's good will.


There's also the completely right answer that paradise comes from paradeisos which is ancient greek for an enclosed pleasure park, one resembling the parks found in Ancient Persia.

I think both greek words can work here. But it comes to mean the "Garden of Eden." The first known mention of the word seems to be somewhere between 450-300 BCE. It is always used in reference though to the Persians.


And utopia comes from the greek words of ou + topos ... which roughly translates to "not this place."


It would seem that both places do not exist naturally but are built as constructs. Paradise is an area beyond the everyday reserved strictly for pleasure where as a utopia is a place based on ideal.

And those ideals may not always be one of pleasure-- a utopia might be various things to various people and usually includes various class centric standards for how people live, work and interact.

A paradise would seem to exist easier than a utopia because it is easier to eager on the concepts of pleasure than the concepts of things like "fairness, hard work paying off and everyone bettering themselves through a prescription."

Jun 27, 09 6:25 pm

eager=agree... spell check!

Jun 27, 09 6:26 pm

prenazi- thanks for advise, i thought the same too, there are more thesis, researches on utopia by many scholars, n architects tend to use this term throughout history without a very clear definition "architecturally" and agreed on among our profession...

that's why i'm interested in this comparison...

hillandrock> thanks and great materials...

the idea of paradise being "beyond one's point of reference of display n being pleasurable" is an interesting idea and correspond to our contemporary visually based world... while utopia of "not this place" has this advant garde negation to the city conceptually and idealistically as what we had in the last century...

GREAT! looks like a good start for me to research on^^

Jun 27, 09 11:01 pm

for some reason when i thought of paradise, i thought of a spell n psychedelic colour^^

Jun 27, 09 11:05 pm

Once upon a time, in a land far away, there used to be something called a dictionary: Being, a book filled with words and names, and their agreed-upon spellings and definitions. It was, believe it or not, the first place that students, scholars, and yes even laborers and housewives, would turn, to know what was the usual meaning of an unknown (or not fully remembered) term.

par.a.dise (par'a-dis'). n. 1. [P-], the garden of Eden. 2. heaven. 3. a) any place of great beauty and perfection. b) any place or condition of great happiness. (u-to-pi-e), n. 1. an imaginary island described as having a perfect political and social system: subject and title of a book written by Sir Thomas More in 1516. 2. [often u-], any place, state, or situation of ideal perfection. 3. [often u-], any visionary scheme or system for an ideally perfect social order.

Naturally it is a pleasure to dope out together what these terms really mean to one, or could mean -- but why wouldn't one start at the beginning, with the historic definitions, as a basis for that discussion ?

Jun 28, 09 12:01 am

does architects ever agreed on definitions provided in the dictionary?

i assume its a norm in this forum that ppl look for information missing in the dictionary. :)

Jun 28, 09 12:16 am

Absolutely. And I'm an anarchist myself, so I understand your point. And of course I should apologize for seeming peevish.

But, aren't we technologists here, as well as thinkers, dreamers, lovers, poets and drunks ? And don't mechanics and scientists play by the rules of whatever games they pursue, and acknowledge the existence of those rules (at least) before breaking them to make their new omelettes ?

"What is the difference between . . ." is a cry for a book -- where I came from. Are those days gone, at last ?

Jun 28, 09 12:39 am

The entire January 1972 issue of Du magazine (Swiss) is devoted to "Utopia: Visionärer Städtebau gestern und heute" (Utopia: Visionary Urban Design yesterday and today). Unfortunately, all the text is in German with not even an English summery.

Off hand, the only specific architect[ural] rendition of Paradise I can think of is Terragni's Paradiso (room) within the Danteum.

There are, however, many oasis reenactments (i.e., paradise) within architectural design. Learning from Las Vegas notes the 'oasis' aspect of the outdoor pool areas of the various hotels, and even Dubai (and it's artificial islands) and Abu Dhabi may be considered reenactments of the oasis/paradise paradigm rather than following an utopian model.

Paradise as the ultimate in real estate?

Jun 28, 09 11:03 am

interesting discussion...
i agree with many of the points discussed.
one distinction for me is that utopia is chasing ideals which means it is for all. possibly for everyone...promoting the benefits of all.

whereas paradise is the individual. it needs many to serve the individual. promoting the few on the backs of many.

Jun 28, 09 11:23 am

Perhaps also related is Robert Geddes's "The Forest Edge" in A.D. 52 11/12-1982. The opening paragraphs:

"In 1753, Marc Antoine Laugier, the French theorist, proposed the primitive hut as the foundation of architecture in his Essai sur l'architecture. The frontispiece of his second edition shows the muse indicating architecture's true source and origin by pointing to a hut at the edge of the forest made of four trees acting as columns.

I suggest an additional interpretation of Laugier's engraving. I believe the muse is directing our attention not only to the building as the reconstructed forest [or the forest reenacted], but also to the edge of the forest itself. She is pointing out the ideal habitat of man, the forest edge, where the woodlands and grasslands meet."

and later...

"While the current focus of ecological and conservationist movements has given new life to Thoreau's view of wilderness, these political movements do not propose that man should live in the wild. The hold that man is a visitor and should leave no trace of his passing."

Without having now (re-)read all of "The Forest Edge", I nonetheless get the sense that the text may evoke ideas that are both paradisic and utopian, ending with examples of practical design applications.

Is the current "green" movement in some ways an advanced combination of the paradise and utopian paradigms?

Jun 28, 09 12:00 pm
chatter of clouds

as noted above, paradise suggests a verdant place founded on the presence of water; keep in mind that the wider region from which the word originates and travels through was well acquainted with aridity. derived from persian and trickles down to arabic as ferdaws (there is no P in arabic) meaning enclosed garden and used to mean the highest level of jannah (jannat al'aden = garden of eden = heaven) for the most pious. therefore, to find a "reenactment"of paradise/ferdaws, a very good bet is to research landscape design in the middle eastern/ islamic world. greek, i believe, imports the word and does not export it. to note, paradise in the regional mythologies extending back to the babylonian and even beyond allows fallability into paradise, the forbidden fruit standing for desire as the seed of knowledge and the serpent are residents in this garden. one can argue, therefore, that paradise is not utopic, it contains the kernel of its twin idea, hell. the duality incurred is not evidenced in the monological utopia (which ironically ingests the very possibility of its antithesis into its name= no place, very much like odysseus's ironically self confessed name, very much THE man amongst gods and monsters, means no-man)

utopia (the negating u-prefix is dualy ironic, in its phonetic proximity to eu-(meaning good) and in its negation) is built on topos, which unlike chora, the other ancient greek word for place, is the abstract expanse of place, its location and not its physicality. topoi (pl) would then, through convenientia, become places for the presentation of ideas and then, through metonymy by way or aristitle, become the very positions of rationality presenting its arguments. thus, utopia, unlike paradise, carries the nuances of both place and idea, of place as the spatial presentation, self evidence, of an idea. this idea seeks not only to structure space but also to structure the politics, economics and all other civilazation facets. it is penultimately a historical but ahsitoricizing organizational spatial and socio-politico-economic model that reflects the period mathematics, geometries, mythologies and political sensibilities of its creators' environment. the model is of course centred around its very formula, its idea of organization.

paradise suggests humanity subservient to nature; utopia suggests otherwise, nature subservient to humanity. paradise, mythically, existed; utopia, mythically, will exist.

Jun 28, 09 1:12 pm

Delightful. So, to summarize that, one could posit Paradise as Natural, and Utopia as Man-made, in essence ?

If so (or on another slant), the issue of entitlement, or access, arises. Who gets to partake of, or inherit, either of these states ?

Jun 28, 09 2:13 pm

But [historic] paradise is neither Middle Eastern or natural-- considering the concept of paradise specifically mention predates the islamic world by close to 7 centuries.

What is funny is that the greek base name also means stupid person in Persian.

Jun 28, 09 2:35 pm

Oddly, I had just lately been confronted with the idea that those of a religious persuasion are sometimes (often, always ?) willing to forgo, Here, what they have been promised will be theirs, There. . .

Jun 28, 09 2:40 pm

How about:
Paradise is your personal, individual ideal place / situation - one for all
Utopia is a sociatal / interpersonal ideal place / situation - all for one

...or, it could just be different parts of New Jersey, depending on your point of view.

Jun 28, 09 4:26 pm

I'd say both paradise and utopia are man-made constructs, but paradise is metaphoric and utopia is paradigmatic.

Jun 28, 09 4:43 pm

I had an old Hudson with Paradigmatic -- it used to run low on fluid all the time. Still, better than that Nash Problematic that my uncle thought was so great. . .!

[sorry -- couldn't help myself. please continue]

Jun 28, 09 5:30 pm

You all have missed the point (you can hardly be blamed with such a adolescent prompt, cue the teenage angst): 'heterotopia' is really a much richer query. Ask somebody.

Jun 30, 09 1:02 pm

LeDeuzzy, Q. & Pretty Girl, Ugly Boy > i'm floored..

Jul 1, 09 7:48 am

aspect, contrary to what mightyjulio suggests, I found your intitial query thought provoking in that, as you say, one doesn't really hear about architects designing (a) paradise.

When PG,UB suggested research into landscape design of the Middle Eastern and Islamic world, I began to think about the Alhambra--a fortress/palace/city as paradise.

Regarding heterotopia, for some reason, I began to think of the novel Platform--notions of sex tourism within 'paradise'. Also got out my Foucault Reader and read "Space, Knowledge and Power" where Foucault says a few things about ancient Roman baths and their eventual demise throughout Europe--not exactly places of paradise, but public, social places centered around activities of pleasure.

You say you are planning to design a paradise. Care to share a little more about that?

Jul 1, 09 3:36 pm
chatter of clouds

to add: in arabic junaynah, also meaning garden is a dimunitive of jannah (heaven)... to mean small jannah. (google and you'll find at least three towns in the islamic areas named al junaynah (it would be tantamount to being a megalomanic blasphemy to call an earthly abode jannah in the islamic world, although ferdaws, carrying a more distant very probably pre-islamic exotic ring, being persian extraction, is probably more conceivable)) in sudan, syria and yemen. in a sense, every garden therefore is a dimunitive echo of paradise. again, keep in mind the importance of water. me run.

Jul 1, 09 5:15 pm

Completely unrelated, and sorry for the imposition, but the first thing I thought of when I saw the topic was a story my brother-in-law told me about trying to explain the difference between the concepts of training and education. He's a civil servant in a Navy engineering command, and one of the top brass was asked to spell out the difference. His reply:

"I want my sixteen year old daughter to learn sex education in class, not sex training."


Jul 2, 09 5:44 pm

Ledeuzzy> i'm sure there have been writings on paradise in philosophy, arch theories or literature, however, i rarely find projects (conceptually or build) with titles paradise... on the other hand "utopian xxx or utopia" are very common comparatively speaking...

i wonder do we take the word utopia for granted for any idealistic project? or do we overlook the term paradise and seems this term has been lacking missing in our formal discourse...

from what i see the definition above from our fellow architects, i see the term, landscape, water, display, pleasure, n it draws me to this painting immediately which i found interesting as a start of a conceptual project-

Is the current "green" movement in some ways an advanced combination of the paradise and utopian paradigms?

as u have mentioned, i think the paradise seems more in tune to our contemporary green movement which i found most of the projects are "visually green" to human but not necessary "saving the earth from human" as mentioned in the movie "the day the earth stood still" ...

Jul 4, 09 11:10 pm

paradise is where people from utopia vacation

Jul 5, 09 5:52 pm
brian buchalski

i live on a small tropical island that (as far as i'm concerned) is paradise. by comparison, i don't think i could ever find, build, or even want a "utopia."

Jul 6, 09 12:20 am

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