Progress

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Philosophy

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When actions are taken which change the state of a particular system, and this new state is (correctly) evaluated to be better than the previous state, then this is progress.

Some, shall we say, believers in Progress (pbuh) adopt the idea that advances in science, social organization, and technology can improve the human condition. Believers, it would seem, imagine that people can become happier and improve their quality of life; that economic conditions can be better; and that the application of science, technology, evidence based policy, and so on can make all of these endeavors sustainable and diminish their hidden costs. Indeed, some go so far as to suppose that there is progress in science itself.

Contents

[edit] Historical Notions of Progress

The idea of progress is strongly associated with the eighteenth century Enlightenment period. As a theory of history, it takes its cues from the Bible's assumptions concerning the philosophy of time: a future ordained by prophecy, in which history does not repeat itself cyclically, but moves under God's direction through epochs starting with the Fall of Man and moving through the history of revelation and human salvation that culminates in the Kingdom of God.

It can be contrasted with the theory of eternal return that appeared in classical antiquity, being espoused by Plato, Aristotle, and Lucretius, and also endorsed by the Hindu and Buddhist ideas of the wheel of life. It also contrasts with the historical spiral or pendulum-swinging of Marxist dialectical materialism and historicism.

[edit] Liberal and non-fundamentalist sects

Some have taken to liberal interpretations of their text, and asserted that progress has already happened.

Steven Pinker suggests that violent crime has diminished over time.[1]

Richard Carrier comes up with the interpretation that "no one today, who really knew the facts, would trade this century for any other".[2] He cites health, rights and equality, governance, compassion in action, and other scriptures in support of this.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

[edit] References

  1. The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined (2011) ISBN 978-0-670-02295-3
  2. Sense and goodness Without God, p305
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