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Who I am

Brazilian Philosopher and Politician.


Roberto's Message

This website contains a large number of textual materials, including almost all my published books and published writings, so my ideas can be circulated and discussed freely in the world.


  • S.J.D. Law Harvard Law School, 1976

  • LL.M. Law Harvard Law School, 1970

  • Bacharel em Ciencias Juridicas e Sociais Faculdade de Direito da Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, 1969



Biography - Wikipedia

Early life

Roberto Mangabeira Unger was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1947, and spent his childhood on Manhattan's Upper East Side. He attended the private Allen-Stevenson School.[17] When he was eleven, his father died and his mother moved the family back to Brazil. He attended a Jesuit school and went on to law school at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.[17]

Unger was admitted to Harvard Law School in September 1969. After receiving his LLM, Unger stayed at Harvard another year on a fellowship, and then entered the doctoral program. At 23 years old, Unger began teaching jurisprudence, among other things, to first year students.[17] In 1976, aged 29, he got SJD and became one of the youngest faculty members to receive tenure from the Harvard Law School.[18]

Academic career

The beginning of Unger's academic career began with the books Knowledge and Politics and Law in Modern Society, published in 1975 and 1976 respectively.[19][20] These works led to the co-founding of Critical Legal Studies (CLS) with Duncan Kennedy and Morton Horwitz. The movement stirred up controversy in legal schools across America as it challenged standard legal scholarship and made radical proposals for legal education. By the early 1980s, the CLS movement touched off a heated internal debate at Harvard, pitting the CLS scholars against the older, more traditional scholars.[21][22]

Throughout much of the 1980s, Unger worked on his magnum opus, Politics: A Work In Constructive Social Theory, a three volume work that assessed classical social theory and developed a political, social, and economic alternative. The series is based on the premise of society as an artifact, and rejects the necessity of certain institutional arrangements. Published in 1987, Politics was foremost a critique of contemporary social theory and politics; it developed a theory of structural and ideological change, and gave an alternative account of world history. By first attacking the idea that there is a necessary progression from one set of institutional arrangements to another, e.g. feudalism to capitalism, it then built an anti-necessitarian theory of social change, theorizing the transition from one set of institutional arrangements to another.

Unger devoted much of the following decades to further elaborating on the insights developed in Politics by working out the political and social alternatives. What Should Legal Analysis Become? (Verso, 1996) developed tools to reimagine the organization of social life. Democracy Realized: The Progressive Alternative (Verso, 1998) and What Should the Left Propose? (Verso, 2005) put forth alternative institutional proposals.

Intellectual influences

Unger's model of philosophical practice is closest to those philosophers who sought to form a view of the whole of reality, and to do so by using and resisting the specialized knowledge of their time.[23] It has been read as a form of pragmatism, but also as an attempt to disengage ideas and experiences that developed in the West under the influence of Christianity from the categories of Greek philosophy.[24] His thought has been called the inverse of Schopenhauer's philosophy, affirming the supreme value of life and the reality and depth of the self and eschewing fecklessness.[25]

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