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We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

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Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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False Necessity

The Big Idea for Monday, June 02, 2014

It's safe to say that there are technologies that have yet to be imagined. We may put a lot of faith in science fiction giants like Jules Verne and Philip K. Dick who seemed to have the gift of seeing into the future. But we should take comfort in the fact that there will one day be technologies that human's today cannot even imagine--yet.

The same concept can be applied to social structures. We are not limited by laws of change that govern history. There are not natural laws that control how society can and cannot evolve. There are no limits on human potential. False necessity is a theory, often discussed by renowned philosopher and Brazilian politician Roberto Unger, that rejects any attempts to confine the forces of society into structures. 

Unger explains: "What then is the task?  The task is to recover the central revolutionary insight of classical social theory and to liberate this insight from the illusions of false necessity.  And if we were to take that task seriously we would then have to contest the orthodoxies that now prevail across the whole field of social sciences and humanities. In the positive social sciences, the hard social sciences, economics first among them what we find are rationalizing tendencies that explain the established arrangements in a way that vindicates their necessity and their authority."


  1. 1 We Create Society
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  2. 2 Buddhist Ethics
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  3. 3 In the Shadow of Hegel
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  4. 4 How to Develop a Subversive Mindset
    Big Think Editors Big Think Mentor

False Necessity

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