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Necessity Is The Mother Of Invention

This is an old proverbial saying, which means that trouble or difficulty inspires solutions. It is interpreted to mean that when an individual has to do something, he or she will find a way of doing it. Although the author is unknown, the proverb is ascribed a Greek philosopher named Plato. This is because the proverb appears in Plato’s dialogue “Republic.” The proverb was first documented in Latin. It appeared later in English manuscripts in the 16th Century.


Every proverbial saying attracts criticism as people try to proof whether the saying is true and applicable to real-life situations. The saying “necessity is the mother of invention” implies that people find ways of doing something or solving a problem when it is necessary or mandatory. Critics of this saying argue that necessity is not the only source of inventions. Although inventions solve problems, they argue that most of the legendary inventors were not in need of their inventions. For instance, Valentin Hauy who invented reading materials for the blind was not blind and hence did not need the materials.

Critics argue that just because one is in need does not mean they will be inspired to invent a solution to their need. Sometimes people bear with their problems until someone else notices the need and comes up with a solution. Using the same case of blindness, critics argue that blindness did not inspire any blind person to invent a way reading. Critics of this saying use curiosity in place of necessity arguing that inventions result from curious and creative minds. They argue that necessity is not a sufficient condition for invention.

Application of the proverbial saying

Those who agree with this proverbial saying often use it to support their claims that current necessities will lead to future inventions. They consider past inventions as solutions to past necessities, even when the inventors were not necessarily in need of their own inventions. The saying is mostly used when an individual is pushed to find a solution to their problem. It affirms their decision or act. Authors, scientists, and artists have used the saying to describe and justify their work. Part of the saying “Mother of invention” has been used in the past as a band and series’ name. Sometimes the saying is used to describe an individual’s level of need of a solution or way out of their difficulty. Anyone who is really in need of a way out will try to find a solution.

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