The idea of ​​progress

Throughout most of the history of the development of philosophical thought, along with other fundamental ideas, the idea of ​​progress occupied a significant place. Most of humanity, first of all thinkers, believes in progress, i.e. not only in evolution, but in the progressive movement of mankind towards one supreme rational goal, towards the ideal of the common good, which redeems all the victims, all suffering. And although sometimes, as H. Leibniz said, there is a retrograde movement like lines with twists, nevertheless in the end progress will prevail and triumph. G. V. F. Hegel defined world history as "progress in the consciousness of freedom - progress that we can learn in its necessity" .

The question of progress is not a simple matter of speculation, but a vital question about the destiny of man and the whole of mankind, and even more broadly, of the whole world being.

The development process assumes the accumulation of qualitative new formations that irreversibly take the system away from its initial state in the direction of either raising the level of organization of the system, or lowering it, or keeping in general the same level with constant modifications. Such forms of development are expressed by categories of progress, regression and one-plane development. Looking at the history of mankind, returning from the link to the link back to the depths of the centuries, we survey the continuous chain of successive generations of people. Each of them was born, lived, rejoiced, suffered and departed into a different world. The fabric of world history consists of the eternally arising and broken life of individuals and the continuous appreciation of what is created by their efforts.

The way of mankind is long and thorny. From the primitive flock to the modern social systems, from the stone chop to the use of atomic energy, automation, electronics and computer science, from campfire around a fire and hut to modern giant cities, from the wandering communities of savages to great nations; from primitive knowledge, intertwined with mythological fictions, to profound and sophisticated theories.

On the scaffolding history has played innumerable great and small, heroic and nefarious, villainous scenes, there have been many bloody wars. It is estimated that over 6 thousand years of human history on Earth there were more than 20 thousand wars that claimed many millions of human lives; historians have registered only 292 peace years for 3600 years. For a few months, days or even hours, what has been created for decades and centuries has been destroyed. Powerful states emerge in history, colossal empires blossom and die. Of the great, who were in the forefront of human civilization, the ethos became small, of the rich - beggars. In the fire of revolutions, the power of some social groups burned and the power of others was born. The king's and royal thrones broke up and collapsed, they broke off from the heads of the crown, and the heads themselves often flew off their shoulders. Tyrants went into oblivion, but, unfortunately, new ones came.

Thinking about social progress leads to conflicting questions, for example: "Is mankind physically and spiritually healthier and happier or not?" "Is the sophistication of the mind and feelings of people developing, or are modern people not progressing in their mental development by one iota in comparison with the splendor of minds, say, in ancient civilizations?"; What did modern technology bring to people - this "idol" of humanity? "; "Is avant-gardism and abstract art better than the paintings of Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci, and the plays or poems of our contemporaries are better than the works of Shakespeare, Goethe, Pushkin, Lermontov and Tyutchev?"

Progress in its purely logical sense is just an abstraction. The development of art is a particularly good proof. Compare such masterpieces, distant from each other for hundreds of years, as the "Iliad" Homer, Divine Comedy Dante, Hamlet Shakespeare, Faust Goethe and Eugene Onegin Pushkin. Can any of these works be called higher in strength of genius and artistry? Each of them is a great creation.

In science, otherwise - a clear advantage on the side of a more modern author: he either sharply limited the significance of his predecessor, or rejected his theory as erroneous. But Pushkin did not reject anything in Shakespeare. Time only strengthens the power of the artistic masterpiece of the past.

Some authors argue that people are biologically, intellectually and morally degenerate, proving this by increasing the number of cancer patients suffering from cardiovascular, neuropsychiatric, allergic and other ailments; A number of children with physiological abnormalities are born menacingly. The number of mentally retarded people is increasing. It should also be taken into account the number of people suffering from AIDS, drug addiction, alcoholism.

Violation of ecological balance, monstrous pollution of the environment, accumulation of thermonuclear, chemical, biological means of mass extermination is a "gift" scientists. As a result of all this, modern humanity has come against its will to the brink of the abyss of its being in this world.

Each new source of energy is the result of scientific discoveries, evidencing the rise of scientific thought, which contributes to the further progress of the productive forces. For he often becomes a threat to the life of the man himself. Atomic physics and cybernetics (as well as many other things) are closely connected with military affairs. In the first place, it is here that acquisitions turn into losses.

The consciousness of many of our contemporaries is permeated with a depressing sense of some hopelessness: "Is it worth fighting, striving for the better, taking care of the fate of the coming generation, if everything should turn to decay?" There is a very acute sense of the doom of man in the world. Hence the idea of ​​the tragic fate of the human race, the crisis of consciousness, the collapse of the mind, the lack of faith in positive exit programs: "For the sake of what to live when all the ideals of progress have faded?"

Once J. Rousseau put forward the thesis that the progress of science and the arts brought immeasurable harm to people. This thesis is paradoxical only at first glance. Rousseau already then guessed the contradictory nature of human development

civilization: one it brings good, the other - suffering. He once again resurrected the idea of ​​the "golden age", which was in the distant past of mankind. Then there was no private property, universal equality reigned. People were children of nature. They found food under any tree, quenched thirst from the first source, and the bed served as grass under the same tree that gave food. The idea of ​​the "natural man" Rousseau, although fueled by the French Revolution, was essentially a reaction, a reaction to the Christian medieval world view. Mankind was offered to turn away from the already realized in Christianity and again, as in Antiquity, to gain the ideal in the mythologized past. No matter how attractive the idea of ​​reversing progress with its undesirable fruits, it is unrealizable and is a mental idealism. In the words of P. Florensky, it is an attempt to "cover the contradiction with the test of philosophy", instead of looking into his eyes. Christianity, as seen from experience, judges a person more correctly when it speaks of his sinful nature than philosophers suggesting the ideal of the "natural man". AI Herzen aptly emphasized that Rousseau realized that the world surrounding him was not good; but impatient, indignant and offended, he did not understand that the temple of an outdated civilization is about two doors. Afraid to suffocate, he rushed to the doors that they were entering, and exhausted, struggling with a stream that was aimed directly at him. He did not realize that the restoration of primitive savagery is more artificial than the civilization that has survived from the mind.

Rousseau had a definite influence on Leo Tolstoy in his sermon of interrogation. NA Berdyaev noted that both Rousseau and Tolstoy "mix a fallen nature in which ruthless struggle for existence reigns, selfishness, violence and cruelty, with a transfigured nature, with nature noumenal, or paradise" .

Modern criticism of boundless technological progress is more sophisticated than the concept of J. J. Rousseau. She has several sides. First, the boundaries of the growth of human civilization, at least within the Earth, are realized. As AI Solzhenitsyn noted, worms biting an apple must understand that the apple is not infinite.

Although made in the 1970s. estimates of natural resources have been understated, the problem itself does not remove it. Secondly, the approach of some qualitative transition to a new era, comparable to the transition from the Middle Ages to the New Time ("the new Middle Ages" Berdyaev), is felt on different directions. This transition must include a change in values ​​with a rejection of the consumer race on the way up, as Solzhenitsyn called in the Harvard speech. Typical features of this kind of conception are the awareness of the inevitability of the current stage in the history of mankind and the desire to overcome it, and not just turn away from it (we are not talking about hippies, loners, running from civilization, etc., whose existence, by the way, about the historical breakthrough). There is a search for the possibility to apply the fruits of the technological progress to its "extinction", for example propagation of fractional, small production based on the most advanced technologies. Characteristic is also the desire for religious comprehension of the problem. In short, modern critics of progress distinguish themselves from Rousseau, first of all, the desire to go not backwards, but forward.

Here it makes sense to go back to the content of the concept "progress". Note, by the way, that even in the first decades of the XX century. word progress was used usually not in itself, but more often in concrete terms like "the progress of the national economy" etc. Modern usage (without additional defining words) to some extent reflects the tendency to operate with separate concepts that have become mythological, symbolic. This is quite an objective trend, stemming from the fact that many common concepts really seem to have escaped to freedom in our century, gaining some power over the realities and the human consciousness to which they previously served faithfully. The attempt to organize life on the basis of materialism turned into a triumph of the worst variant of idealism, the triumph of autonomously existing fantastic ideas over consciousness.

What do they mean when they talk about progress and its costs? What is progress in general? In terms of - this development for the better. For what is this - the best and how can development bring good things to the best?

There are two sides. First, speaking of the costs and troubles brought by the progress of civilization, the content of this concept is invested in what was considered progress (especially economic and technological) as far back as the nineteenth century, or rather, the modern extrapolation of these concepts.

Let's at least glance at the remarkable discoveries, beginning with ancient times, in the field of mathematics, astronomy, physics, biology, medicine, and already in the science of the New and Newest Time - the theory of heat, electricity, magnetism, optics, the theory of relativity, quantum mechanics, cybernetics, and so on. And we will understand - it is not at all surprising that the idea of ​​scientific progress has become dominant since the XVIII century, when J. Condorcet released his famous book "Sketch of the historical picture of the progress of the human mind" (1794). The supporter of unlimited progress was I. Kant - he ironically curbed the idea of ​​stopping the "end of things".

In the XIX century. in this progress they really saw a way to the best for mankind. Modern disappointment in the progress is primarily due to disappointed hopes: the progress of technology has turned into environmental woes and the danger of the physical death of mankind (weapons of mass destruction, catastrophe at nuclear power plants), social experiments have led to monstrous sacrifices and the creation of degenerate totalitarian societies. "The earth is a great cliff on which mankind is riveted and tormented by a kite of doubt, which is the true Prometheus. It stole the light and now suffers painful tortures for it .

Let's try to clarify the criteria of progress: what is considered the best, what is the worst, which direction in development is progressive, which is reactionary . In short, everything can be said about world history, everything that only the most frustrated imagination can come up with. One can not say - that is prudent. On the first word, choke . There is a large zero for critical reason, the conclusions of which will seem paradoxical to us, until we renounce the progressive illusions of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

But, secondly, all that has been said above about the ontological nature of the contradictions, their absolute inevitability, indicates that the payment for progress will always be, no matter how well we correct this notion, And this is perhaps the most important side of the problem. Within the material, created world, a person can not overcome the tragedy of being. Recklessly count on the all-sided solution of all problems, on a conflict-free course of progress (with the most correct understanding of it). Christian hope is completely different from "historical optimism". It has a basis outside this world and is not addressed to society, not to the masses, but to the individual.

Undoubtedly, the objective law of history is the creation of an increasingly perfect society - social alliances that arise from the beginning of life on Earth, enter into mutual clashes, into a common struggle for survival and the realization of personal and group interests. First, the strongest, most viable, resourceful individuals and communities flourished and prospered, then social structures of a broader national and multinational scale, and finally the most solid, reasonable and most cultured. Solidarity unites peoples and contributes to their progress - the rational meaning of mankind can not consist in the endless generation of struggling, warring, belligerent states, competing in magnitude and destructive power and devouring each other, using ever more lethal weapons.

If progress is the goal, then for whom do we work? Who is this Moloch who, as laborers approach him, instead of rewards, he backs away and in consolation to the exhausted and doomed crowds who are shouting to him: condemned to death greet you, only he knows how to respond with a bitter sneer that after their death everything will be fine on the ground? Are you also doomed modern people to the miserable fate of the caryatids supporting a terrace on which someday others will dance ... or to be unhappy workers who knee in mud dragging a barge with a mysterious rune and with a humble inscription "progress in the future "on the flag. The fatigued fall on the road, others with fresh forces are taken for the ropes, and the roads, as you said, remain the same as at the beginning, because progress is endless. This one had to alert people; the goal is infinitely distant - not the goal, but if you like, the trick; the goal should be closer, at least the wages earned or the pleasure in labor .

F. V. Schelling, for example, said that the idea of ​​unceasing progress is the idea of ​​aimless progress, and that which has no purpose has no meaning; infinite progress is the most empty and gloomy thought. SN Bulgakov echoes it: the theory of progress is like a dim candle, which someone lit at the very beginning of a dark endless corridor. The candle scantily lights the corner a few feet around itself, but the rest of the space is covered in deep darkness. Science is unable to disclose the future destinies of mankind, it leaves us relatively in absolute uncertainty.

The gratifying confidence that all good and reasonable will ultimately triumph and be invincible, has no ground in a mechanistic worldview, for here everything is an absolute accident. And why, then, does the same accident, which the mind has now exalted, tomorrow will not sink it, and which now makes knowledge and truth expedient, tomorrow does not make ignorance and delusion so justified? Or does history not know the collapse and destruction of entire civilizations? Or is it evidence of the right and wrong progress?

Forget about the world cataclysm or the solidification of the Earth and universal death as the final finale of the history of mankind, say the mechanics, but the prospect of absolute randomness itself, full of impenetrable darkness and uncertainty, is not among the invigorating ones. And this can not be objected to by the usual indication that the future of mankind will better cope with its needs, because it's not about the future humanity, but about ourselves, about how we represent our destiny. All that science has to say here is one thing - unknowable. To unravel the innermost sense of history and this ultimate goal, while remaining itself, it can not.

But, of course, on this answer the human spirit can never calm down. To stop at such an answer is to become a back to the most basic questions of conscious life, after which there is nothing to ask.

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