Sunday, February 03, 2013

The Lessons of History (2) -- Is Progress Real?

This book -- The Lessons of History -- by Will and Ariel Durant, is well worth reading. It challenges me with historical perspectives that frankly I had no idea of and would not have troubled myself to go and get.

Today's question: Is Progress Real?  And of course, one must first decide "What is progress?" 

The Durants define progress as "the increasing control of the environment by life" and then narrow it to the individual by asking whether the average man has increased the ability to control the conditions of his life.

We may be more comfortable than ever, live longer than ever, travel further than ever. And yet, and yet...who here is going to say we have greater control than ever? 

I think we are more dependent and more naive than our parents. That's not progress.  


JR said...

I've had "The Story of Civilization" on my bookshelves for decades and have enjoyed reading and re-reading large chunks of it. It's an excellent reference, relatively free from today's oppressive political correctness.

I hadn't read "The Lessons of History" until now. Very interesting. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

Halfwise said...

Small book with big thoughts.

Agreed on the political correctness comment. Lots of authors seem to have agendas.