<aside> 🐦 This FAQ is for people who’ve already watched Joe’s talk and Ellie’s talk, and still have doubts about our theory of change, and want EVEN MORE DETAILS.

It is a work in progress!



Is meaning really such a big deal?

People often put us in some kind of corner because of our focus on meaning. They aren’t seeing the whole picture—which is admittedly quite complex.


Often they have some other foundational framing (”what we need isn’t meaning, but personal growth.”, “Meaning won't solve all the coordination failures!” Etc, etc, etc).

What they don’t know is: we got to our focus on meaning via an exhaustive search for what would help with things like coordination failures and personal growth.

This may seem counterintuitive: why would we focus on concept X, to help with concept Y?

That's the real story. We believe that the hardest part of social change is coming up with a new, workable self-reading or articulacy, that transforms social institutions. You can't make arbitrary changes to society: for instance, you can't make coordination-failure-related changes to society.

The way that you change things at a social level is through social imaginaries. And only certain social imaginaries are workable. So you have to search for a social imaginary that—when it catches on, has the intended effects.

We did such a search, and the workable social imaginary we found, that had the intended effects, was one about sources of meaning.

So, if you want to criticize our choice, you have some options:

  1. You could argue against the idea that social change happens via new imaginaries.
  2. You could do your own exhaustive search of potential imaginaries and claim that another one works even better than our ‘sources of meaning’.
  3. You could do your own analysis of the downstream effects of the meaning imaginary, and find a mistake we made in our positive assessment.

We’d be happy to talk with you, or even publicly debate with you, if you choose one of these paths.