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Book Review: Knowledge and Politics, 61 Minn. L. Rev. 167 (1976)


In fewer than three hundred pages, Professor Roberto Unger attempts to do the following things: 1) give an account of the main ideas which, since the intellectual revolution of the 17th century, have informed our conceptions of nature, society, and the human self, and show the interconnection among them, and their relation to the dominant social and political institutions of the modern state; 2) display the philosophical shortcomings of these ideas, and the inadequacies of the actual institutional arrangements to which they correspond; 3) present an ideal conception of the self and of society which captures the strengths, while avoiding the weaknesses, of the modern (or as Unger characterizes it, the "liberal") intellectual tradition; 4) *identify those features of modern social and political organization that intimate, in a cloudy and ambiguous way, the possible transformation of the master institutions of the liberal state and the emergence of a form of life in which Unger's ideal of the self would be adequately realized; and 5) place the birth and demise of liberalism in the context of a theory of universal history. It is strange that after so rich a feast, the reader is still hungry—without quite knowing for what.

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