What is progress?

idea of ​​progressive development has entered into a science as the secularized (worldly) version of the faith of Christians in Providence.Vision of the Future in the biblical stories is an irreversible, and the sacred pre-defined process of development of the people, led by the divine will.However, the origins of this idea are found much earlier.Next, we analyze what progress, what is its purpose and meaning.

first mention

Before discussing what progress should give a brief historical description of the appearance and spread of this idea.In particular, the Greek philosophical tradition there is the argument on improving the existing social and political structures evolved from the primitive community and the family to the ancient polis, t. E. The city-state (Aristotle, "Politics", Plato, "Laws").Later, during the Middle Ages, Bacon tried to apply the concept and the concept of progress in the ideological field.According to him, over time accumulating knowledge more enriched and improved.Thus, each generation is able to see farther and better than its predecessors.

What is progress?

This word has Latin roots and means "success", "moving forward."Progress is the direction of the progressive nature.This process is characterized by a shift from lower to higher, from the less to the more perfect.The progress of society - a global, world-historical phenomenon.This process involves the ascent of human association of savagery, primitive state to the heights of civilization.This shift is based on the political, legal, moral and ethical, scientific and technical achievements.

Main components

described above, what is progress, and when I first started talking about this concept.Next, we analyze its components.In the course of developing improved following parties:

  • material.In this case it is the most complete satisfaction for all people and the elimination of any technical restrictions for this.
  • social component.We are talking about the process of approximation of society to justice and freedom.
  • Science.This component reflects the continuous process, deepen and expand knowledge of the world, its development in micro- and macrospheres;liberation from the boundaries of knowledge of economic feasibility.

New Era In this period began to perceive the driving forces of progress in the natural sciences.The point of view expressed in the process of Herbert Spencer.According to him, progress - both in nature and in society - to obey the universal evolutionary principle continuously increasing complexity and the internal functioning of the organization.Over time, the form of progress began to be viewed in the literature, general history.Do not remain without attention and the arts.The different civilizations has been a variety of social services.orders, which, in turn, led to different kinds of progress.It was formed so-called "ladder".At the top are the most developed and civilized societies of the West.Next we were at different stages of other crops.Distribution depended on the level of development.An "Westernization" of the concept.As a result, there are such kinds of progress as "amerikotsentrizm" and "Eurocentrism."


During this period, the decisive role was assigned to man.Weber stressed the universal character of the tendency of rationalization in the management of a variety of social processes.Durkheim cited other examples of progress.He spoke about the trend of social integration through the "organic solidarity".It was based on complementarity and mutually beneficial contribution of all members of society.

classical concept

19-20 centuries referred to as "the triumph of the idea of ​​development."While the general belief is that scientific and technological progress is able to provide a guaranteed continuous improvement of life, accompanied by the romantic spirit of optimism.In general, the classical concept of society existed.It was an optimistic idea of ​​a gradual liberation of humanity from fear and ignorance towards more refined and higher levels of civilization.The classical concept was based on the concept of linear time, irreversible.There is positive progress characterized by the difference between the present and the future or the past and present.

Goals and Objectives

assumed that described the movement will go on continuously, not only in the present but in the future, despite the random variations.Enough it has been widely circulated among the masses in the belief that progress is quite possible to maintain at every stage, in every basic structure of society.As a result, all had to reach full prosperity.

main criteria

Among them are often met:

  • Religious improvement (J. Buse, Augustine).
  • Increasing scientific knowledge (Comte, D. Vico, JA Condorcet).
  • Equality and Justice (Marx, T. Campanella, T. Moore).
  • expansion of individual freedom in a complex with the development of morality (Durkheim, Kant).
  • urbanization, industrialization, technical progress (KA Saint-Simon).
  • Reign over natural forces (Spencer).

Contradictory progress

first doubts about the concept began to speak after the First World War.The contradictory nature of progress was the appearance of the ideas about the negative side effects of the development of society.One of the first criticism made by F. Tennis.He believed that social development from traditional to modern, industrial, not only did not improve, but rather worsened the living conditions of people.The primary, direct, personal interaction of traditional social ties people have been replaced by indirect, impersonal, secondary, purely instrumental contacts inherent in the modern world.This, according to tennis, was the main problem of progress.

mounting criticism

After World for many it has become evident that the development in one sphere has negative effects in another.Industrialization, urbanization, scientific and technological advances accompanied by environmental pollution.That, in turn, provoked an ecological crisis.A new theory.The belief that mankind needs a continuous economic progress, was replaced by an alternative idea of ​​"limits to growth".


The researchers calculated that the approach of the level of consumption of different countries to Western standards, the planet can explode ecological overload.The concept of the "golden billion", according to which secured the existence of the world is guaranteed to only get 1 billion people from affluent countries, completely undermined the central tenet upon which the classical idea of ​​progress - orientation for a better future for all living without exception.The belief in the superiority of the direction of development, in which there was a civilization of the West, prevailed over a long period of time, replaced by disappointment.

utopian vision

This thinking is reflected very idealized representation of the best society.In this utopian thinking, I suppose, it was also dealt a powerful blow.The last of the attempts to implement this type of vision of the world was the world socialist system.Thus humanity at this stage has left projects "can mobilize the collective, universal action, capturing people's imagination," which could orient society for a brighter future (this role very effectively executed the ideas of socialism).Instead, today, there are simple or extrapolation of current trends, or catastrophic prophecies.

Reflections on the future development of ideas

on upcoming events is currently in two directions.In the first case determined reigned pessimism, which viewed the grim images of decay, destruction and degeneration.Because of frustration in scientific and technological rationalism began to spread mysticism and irrationalism.Reason and logic in this or that sphere are increasingly opposed to emotions, intuition, subconscious perception.According to the radical postmodernist theories in contemporary culture disappeared reliable criteria by which the myth was different from the reality, ugly from the beautiful, virtue from vice.All this points to the fact that the era of "the supreme freedom" of morality, tradition, progress in the end.In the second direction are reviewed actively seeking new development concepts that can give people a positive guidance for the coming period, to save mankind from unfounded illusions.Postmodern ideas was largely rejected by the theory of evolution in a traditional version with finalism, fatalism and determinism.Most of them preferred to other examples of progress - other probabilistic approaches to the development of society and culture.Some theorists (Buckley, Archer, Etzioni, Wallerstein, Nisbet) in their conceptions of how to interpret the idea of ​​the possible occurrence of a chance to improve, which could to a certain degree of probability occur or may be unnoticed.

principle of constructivism

From the diversity of approaches is the concept served as the theoretical foundation for the post-modernism.The challenge is that in everyday normal life of people find the driving forces of progress.According to K. Lash, solution to the puzzle is provided certainty that only through the efforts of human improvement can occur.Otherwise, the task is simply unsolvable.

Alternative concepts

All of them arising in the framework of activities is very abstract.Alternative concepts appeal to "the whole person", without showing special interest in the cultural and civilizational differences.In this case, in fact, seen a new type of social utopias.It is a cybernetic modeling of social culture of the ideal order, viewed through the prism of human activity.These concepts return positive guidance, certain belief in the likely progressive development.Moreover, they call (although at the highly theoretical level) sources and growth conditions.Meanwhile, alternative concepts do not answer the basic question: why mankind, "free from" and "freedom for", in some cases chooses progress and is committed to the "new, active the society", but often a benchmark for him is the decadence and destruction thatin turn, leads to stagnation and regress.If based on the theory of activity, it can hardly be argued that society needs to progress.This is explained by the fact that it is impossible to prove whether or not mankind to want to realize their creative capacity in the future.Answers to these questions are no and cybernetics and systems theory.However, a detailed analysis of their religion and culture.In this connection, as an alternative to modernism in the constructivist theory of progress can today serve sociocultural etikotsentrizm.

In conclusion

Modern Russian philosophers are increasingly returning to the "Silver Age".Referring to this heritage, they are trying again to hear the rhythms of the identity of national culture, to translate them into a strict scientific language.According to Panarin, biomorphic structure of knowledge shows the image of a man as a living space, an organic integrity.His space awakens in people the motivation of the highest order, is incompatible with the irresponsible consumer selfishness.Today is clearly evident that modern social science requires a serious revision of the existing guidelines, priorities and values.It may suggest new directions for a person if he, in turn, will find strong enough to use them.