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The idea of Progress

Science and Philosophy

icareWithout Progress, Peace is not possible. Without Peace, Progress is not possible. Kofi Anna

According to our theory, Humanity is intended to achieve Perfection, a concept based on the notion of Progress. This concept has often been challenged by modern and contemporary philosophy. Lalane wrote: "It is indeed difficult to outline this formula"; i.e. difficult to determine the direction and trend of such a Movement".

A few definitions

The idea of Progress can be associated to that of changing, walking forward.  It entails a positive movement from a lower state to a higher state. This point of view implies a judgment on value and a reflection on its purpose. 
Both judgment on value and anticipation on future are beyond strict rational knowledge of things. In other words, Progress gets out of the framework defined by Science. 
As Blondel wrote: “Scientists are people of the doubt, putting into quarantine anything which is not true, undemonstrated”.

Philosophy is different from Science

It is perfectly normal and rightful that Science to be based at the level of experimentation and phenomenon, as well as partly Philosophy (i.e. the Philosophy of science or Phenomenology). But, should scientific method become the rule for the Philosophy? I don’t think so.
The extent of the philosophical area is different from that of the so-called “exact sciences”. Its scope goes beyond rationality framework. It encompasses all possible backgrounds; those of scientific knowledge, religion and psychology. It goes from phenomenal to the transcendental, from science up to God. In the philosophical space, there is room for phenomenology but also for anticipation.

Thus reflections on the human future belong fully to the friends of Wisdom.  It seems to me that Philosophy has full right to send its antenna towards future.

 

The denial of progress

Conservativeness, Sensitiveness, Narcissism

pretre sauvant un hommeVarious types of state of mind are challenging the possibility of human progress.

The conservative approach

According to that approach, the past is superior than the present and the future; in brief, “it was much better before ". 
It is a common conclusion of ages when our flexibility to adapt is weakening; the frustration of not beeing 20 years old anymore and to have stopped functioning well; the feeling of being overtaken by time. Those are the main reasons at the root of this type of pessimism *.

* That was probably the thinking of dominant chimpanzees or gorillas, when being overthrown by their follower.

The hypersensitive approach

Offended by extreme Evil, some come to consider our specie, as being in decline. It is a normal reaction. Genocide, slavery, torture and war, are realities. All these "scandals", when we do not know their meaning, create doubt in existence and for positive progress. 
But this is no longer true when one looks at human evolution in its entirety: Evil, despite its violence, appears to be in strong regression. 
Evil is not increasing in humanity. It is our sensitivity to Evil that has been re-enforced.

The narcissistic approach

Narcissism is a marginal and psychical position but can be very influential. It is often found in the path of racism, through disregard of the weak and xenophobia. 
Its arguments legitimate the use of progress for domination purposes, to despise other cultures. 
It's plainly a superiority complex, naturally more pronounced in the dominant civilization. You just have to observe the current all-powerful liberalism behaviour to be convinced.

It can also be found in the way that media are considering other cultures for the last 30 years: the tiny room granted by mass televisions to humans living in the technologically underdeveloped countries, gives us the extent of media narcissism.

Claude Lévi-Strauss wrote about this: "The West, master of the machines, reflects only very basic knowledge on the use and resources of that Supreme Machine that is the human being." In this field, on the contrary, as well as in the relationship between physical and morale factors, East and far- East civilisations have an advance of several millennia, compared to the West:"they have produced these vast amounts of theory and practice; i.e. Yoga in the city, Chinese breathing techniques and visceral gymnastics of ancient Maori."

Of course, there is no scale to classify civilization among them; differences of level relatively to progress will depend of the tool to be elaborated. 
What a culture wins on the one hand, it well often loses it on the other; pretending being humanly superior to another group, is a perversion, like racism or xenophobia.

General progress

Often, technical progress flourishes against the spiritual advancement. 
Most of the time, cults as "luxury", "wealth", are considered superior to higher values i.e.: altruism, humility, sharing, brotherhood, equality etc. 
But conversely, the spiritual rigour often hinders progress and the emergence of social values i.e.: gender’s equality, emancipation of workers, etc.

On Evolution

Progress of living world and Humanity

jean marc tonizzo. Oeuvresur papier. Bête1/ Progress of living world

Modern sciences put the start of life from the gathering of a few molecules. These molecules led to the first micro-organisms (ultra virus, cells). Such archaic life has differentiated in time and multiplied to give the current ecosystem.
We can speak of a progress passing from the simple to the most complex; from the unique towards diversity; from stillness to movement; from reflex to the reason, etc.

2 / Human progress

This is exactly the same thing with humanity.  The evolution of our specie between its primate origins and present human state is provable. The amount of our knowledge has progressed as well as the mastering of the complexity and the number of tools. 
The richness of our language as well as the diversity and complexity of our prohibitions, have grown up. The scopes of our travels, the way we cure and life expectancy have increased.

We made progress by taming impulses, through simpler relationship but more complex social organization. Moral, ability to plan the future or to analyse the past, have developed. Expression of feeling, creative force, relationship to aesthetics and beauty, also grew up.

 

Perversion of technology

Diversion of the object by the criminal instinct

Damien HirstThe perversion of the city begins with faking the words. Plato

Technology is devastating

Of course, in demonstrating the positive side of progress, some horrors it may engender, appear. In the last century, relying on technological discoveries, mankind has committed the worst carnage. This madness does not give a good image of progress.

The fault of Mankind

However, Technology is not responsible for human behaviour. The actual problem for Mankind is Man. Domination, taste of power, tribalism, racism, are still leading Humanity. Criminal impulse allows the individual to mistreat his brothers and use technology for this purpose.
The domination of hankering on consciousness reflects an area of progress that seems "bad".  And yet, even if our behaviours are still primary, violence and injustice regress in humanity.

A gradual decrease

On one side, the object and the progress soften men; on the other, they increase the scale of our excess. But in the end, it is the "good" which prevails. 
Human organization is thus made that evil is contained in a self-locking system: the more it expresses, the more ties bind.
When this long mastering work will be completed, the progress will have lost any danger.
This principle is within our conversion; it is the fruit of our transformation. It will last until the takeover of hankering by the consciousness, until the acquisition by man of the full control of its impulses.

From impulses to consciousness

Consciousness dominating impulses

chet bakerHuman consciousness is still too weak. 

It is unable to properly limit the impulses. Globally, today, Law, Fear, Others are still limitating the strength of our Desires. 
We have a blatant example with globalisation:  Consciousness of the market is unable to retain its own imperialism. Only, some strong counterforce could restrict its exuberance. 
Media, politicians, justice, intellectuals, trade-unions have been constructing this counterforce troupe.  But the market managed to weaken them: in a few years it has turned to control or to corrupt them.  Hence, it could develop its omnipotence.

The absolute necessity of a counterforce

That situation is not unique to the market. It governs most human systems. A political party without counterforce is likely to evolve towards autocracy and nepotism. Without law and justice, intimidation, terror and violence impose themselves.
The desire for omnipotence is an offensive and active force. It corresponds to the "outgoing" type, in the sense discussed by Karl Jung. This type of character is essential for the evolution of humanity, though it has the defects of its qualities: it lacks the virtues of introversion: analysis, reflection, doubt, humility, temperance, etc.
Based on outward-oriented qualities, a liberal power requires two fundamental elements:

  • Counterforce strong enough to limit its natural aggressiveness. 
  • Consciousness that will instinctively and constantly seek to balance this counterforce.

The omnipotence’s mechanisms

The desire for omnipotence is unable to establish horizontal relationships. It has overwhelming need to dominate; it cannot accept any communitarian or cooperative system; or any system claiming to treat others as an equal. When it comes to dominate, it produces lot of frustration and reactions*.
* By imposing a system of domination, one generates a quantity of subordinates, rivals and pretenders to domination... In other words, if the West continues on the path of domination, the emerging powers like China, will naturally seek to take its place... The West, since it gets still the means, must work towards the establishment of horizontal relationships in humanity. Otherwise, in the future, it may suffer in turn in the yoke of domination.
The principle of domination has very simple rules. A few domineers impose their laws on others who are forced to agree threatened by violence *. The less this model meets resistance, the more it accentuates its injustices.

An omnipotent state of mind

To position oneself as a dominant implies a particular state of mind.  * This is the case of the North - South exchanges.
This requires considering others: 1 / as an inferior, 2 / as an enemy, 3 / or as an accomplice.
Under such conditions, it becomes impossible to establish a world based on mutual respect, and to enter any respectful/conscious evolution.

 

Market’s abuses

The fierce competition

mickey wharolI don't know what is a man, I only know his  price. Bertolt Brecht.

The happiness of society depends on the balance between power and counter-power. When a power searches and succeeds to attain omnipotence, the people turned back in a phase of suffering.
This is exactly what happened in the fall of the communism era. Without opponent anymore,  liberalism has entered an oligarchic period.
Counterforce, like media, intellectuals, trade unions, justice, has underestimated the corrupting nature of the market, which has not been depicted and developed out of control.  Since then, the industrial and merchant system holds both power and counterforce.  From this dominating position, it imposes its fierce model on globalization
In this model, means do not matter anymore, the aim being to achieve its purposes. Ethics and Law are thus reduced to the benefit of the goal. However, very often, these "means" are composed of men; to achieve its purposes, such a system will not hesitate to sacrifice men.

An oblivious trend towards slavery

In the case of the relocation of labour, any benevolent model would have used this migration to export its social achievements. The West would have incited emerging countries to provide better working conditions for workers; it would have required from its subcontractors an irreproachable behaviour; it would have provided means to monitor it and make them applied.
It would have only implied for the West to place mankind at the centre of its concerns.
But it is the opposite that happened. Some rules were proposed but mainly for the form, monitoring being among the lesser concerns. West, with its new employees from the third world, simply reconstituted slavery, similar to that of western employers during late 19th century. 
The industrialized world used local perpetrators to rebuild a new slavery.  Counterforce (media, political, intellectual) being fully under control, the mechanism could be developed.

The fierce competition

In imposing this type of violent emulation, liberalism brought us back to the laws of nature.  Under this rugged model, the reflection is somehow anesthetized; there are no more detractors, these needing consciousnesses to assert themselves.
The deaf competition helped the market to enhance misconducts back to the colonization time. It increased perverted trade and systematic looting of vulnerable countries. Deafness has endangered the planet, leaving conflicts to continue. 
This type of competition remains indifferent to criticism and alarm bells. Totally compulsive, only the amazement of a disaster can bring it back to reality.

The example of the car industry 

Examples of such senseless development abound. The car industry is the symbol.
For more than 30 years, brands know the problems they cause to humanity: risks due to pollution, congestion, waste, are known and reported. 
If this corporation would have been simply conscious, it would have listened to the voices of Wisdom. The development of public transport would have followed another curve. The cleaner car race would have been launched 30 years earlier. 
It is the opposite that happened. Society has waited to touch the bottom, to enhance the less polluting cars.

 

The inversion of values

Towards the laws of Nature

basquiatTill now, resistance to the aggression of the market were not strong enough.

Convinced to be ideal, this system continues to spread its “aggressive values” on the planet.  These "values" are not true ones. Most of them are impulses, deprecated by the spiritual world, because they reverse the traditional values of Humanity.
Where the spiritual world speaks of humility, the market is pushing up narcissism.  Where ethics advocate sharing, neo liberalism gives its selfishness as example. Where the religious works to protect the weak, this system shows its total indifference.

Denial of others

When communism used to present a reciprocating future, liberalism stood quiet, forced to respect the workers, trade unions, intellectuals, in short the counterforce. It was also forced to acknowledge the normal trend of social developments.  But since the fall of the Berlin wall, its true nature reappeared; its sense of omnipotence took it back to its old mechanical *.
*Making the social gains reverted, toughening competition, neglecting the Human.
Under such state of mind, People are simply sacrificed on the altar of utilitarianism by decision-makers prisoners of their omnipotence, ignoring the poor. People are regarded as subordinate if not useless *.
* When the balance of forces is respected and counterforce is effective, the dominants are obliged to take account of the people, workers, employees, as it was the case in the inter-war years and throughout the cold war.

The abusing dominants

Like most men, dominants need safeguards to respect others. When counterforces are not established, the most narcissistic leaders raise themselves at the top. When narcissism is in power, action beats reflection, war outstrips diplomacy.
Suspicious, dominating and somewhat paranoid, dominants manipulate the fears to increase military spending, instead of putting this money for peace and disarmament.
In doing so, they strengthen the invention and sale of weapons more and more dangerous and sadistic (antipersonnel mines, cluster bombs, mini nuclear bomb, etc.).

The next step

Progress will be achieved when there will be an equivalent counterforce independent in front of each power; when fair and incorruptible objections will prevail; when actual force will be put behind each leader of the system, forcing him to comply absolutely with human ethics. 
Humanity would have moved a major step forward, when it will understand the narcissistic mental state, which is the mass handling mechanisms, blocking the emergence of a friendly development.

 

Protective technology

From an Evil to a Good

What makes humanity it is its great adaptability. SocratesSome grant a broad value to the concept of progress by noting that the area of technical power ultimately commands all other areas of human culture. Thus, general development of production on the one hand, the increasing effectiveness of medical and surgical techniques on the other hand, provide ever larger number of men more chance of survival. Statistically the average age of death moves back and this simple fact is, of course, a universal test of progress, difficult to challenge, because if everyone wants to do something with his life, at least they should first live (to deny this progress, one should presuppose that nothingness is superior to being). The General increase of industrial production gives to an increasing number of men greater accesses to recreation, reflection, to knowledge, artistic joys. It is probably because technical progress is the condition of all others that today all peoples have adopted Western science, continuing industrialization effort. It seems that the development of technical power has become a universal test of progress. Denis Huysmans and André Vergèz new course and study on philosophy 1974

The virtues of injustice

The mix pulse /progress, as noted above, generate a quantity of social injustices, which, in turn, generate a strong feeling of insecurity. 
This feeling requests that men invent new legislation and technical shields.  It requires thinking about their own acts and find how to protect them from bad uses of progress. 
From there come new means of monitoring risk, stronger vigilance committee, civil society organization, pacifist resurgence, etc. These means arise from the misuse of progress by the dominants.

Same with the liberal values

  • On the one hand, liberalism in supporting freedom, allows the renovation of traditional ethics...
  • But on the other hand, the Liberal fierce competition, leads to a resurgence of violence. It dilutes the social values; it increases individualism, selfishness and loneliness; it brings transgression of moral values for liberal ones (luxury, fame, power, wealth)...

Evolution through the negative

Obviously, this way to evolve through the negative does not correspond to the human aspirations. 
If the human majority had the choice it would obviously prefer a thoughtful, interdependent, peaceful and fraternal development, using fairly the power and richness of its various cultures. 
Such alternatives would quickly lead man to controlling its environment properly and in a sustainable way.  Of course, this is not yet reality; it will require much work and patience to humanity, to make it happen.

(January 2001)



A sense for Humanity

Le progrès technique est comme une hache qu'on aurait mis dans les mains d'un psychopathe. Albert Einstein

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