The Self Awakened: Pragmatism Unbound Review

The Self Awakened: Pragmatism Unbound
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I feel like I gained a lot personally from The Self Awakened. On a larger political and economic level, I think its guidelines fall short of its wonderful spiritual and philosophical message.
Unger's basic spiritual stance is very compelling: that each person (and each society as a whole) can reach out beyond the assumptions and limits within which we live. I think this is a valuable impetus for understanding the limits of what we can do while stretching those limits. But it has to be taken on faith; it doesn't follow from his arguments.
How do we start to make a change that will make us all a bit more free? No one should be surprised by this point of the book (around Chapter 9) that Unger paints in broad strokes. What worries me is that his recommendations are idealistic. They depend on society agreeing to experiments that could overturn some very cushy arrangements that seem comfortable to people with the most control over government policy and business decisions. Historically, these people have proven not only selfish but short-sighted. I think Unger would agree that there's no point to pushing for change that can't be achieved under current social and culture conditions, but I'm afraid that's what he's done.
The writing style is thick and the reader has to be prepared for slow and careful reading (along with some redundant passages), but you're rewarded with some breath-taking moments of inspiration and beautiful prose.

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In what kind of world and for what kind of thought is time real, history open, and novelty possible? In what kind of world and for what kind of thought does it make sense for a human being to look for trouble rather than to stay out of trouble?

In this long-awaited work of general philosophy, Roberto Mangabeira Unger proposes a radical reorientation of established ideas about nature, mind, society, politics, and religion. He shows how we have to change our beliefs if we are to succeed in doing justice to our most distinctive contemporary experiences, discoveries, and ideals.

The Self Awakened mobilizes the resources of several philosophical traditions, and develops the unrecognized revolutionary implications of the most influential of these traditions today--pragmatism. Avoiding technical jargon and needless complication, this book makes a case for philosophy as the supreme activity of the intellect at war, insisting on its power to deal with what matters most.

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