Deep Transformations Can Take Place in Small Initiatives

Philosopher Roberto Unger outlines the problem with illusion of false necessity.

Society is a product of our actions; it does not abide by natural laws that rule, for instance, atomic structure. We create society, every day, with our actions.


This engine is often misunderstood in the great debates of academics looking to box us into their search for intrinsic laws. They have lost touch with the forces creating social life. Society is our creation and cannot be confined by laws of structure. 

“It’s not architecture, it’s music,” says Roberto Unger, the renowned philosopher and Brazilian politician, on false necessity, the theory that argues that social organizations can be shaped in new ways, and can't be limited by any supposed natural laws. “What is the central problem in contemporary social thought? The central problem is the breaking of the vital link between insight into the actual and imagination of the possible, imagination of the adjacent possible of what can happen next."

Unger's humanistic outlook puts faith in small changes adding up to deep transformation. He explains: “Change requires neither saintliness nor genius. What it does require is the conviction of the incomparable value of life. Nothing should matter more to us than the attempt to grasp our life while we have it and to awaken from this slumber of routine of compromise and of prostration so that we may die only once. Hope is not the condition or cause of action. Hope is the consequence of action. And those who fail in hope should act practically or conceptually so that they may hope.”

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