The Instigator
asyetundefined
Con (against)
Winning
21 Points
The Contender
thisoneguy
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points

Is there such a thing as 'PROGRESS'?

Do you like this debate?NoYes+1
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
asyetundefined
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/2/2009 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,152 times Debate No: 7651
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (8)
Votes (3)

 

asyetundefined

Con

(regards to David Baugh for re-instigating my interest in this question)

PROGRESS is a word that is bandied about in contemporary society.
Hegel felt that civilization was on a 'march-of-reason'.
Political movements are sometimes 'progressive', people think that society and culture also progress in some way or another - they cite instances such as the end of slavery, the death of spiritualism in the west, computers, globalization, modern-science & medicine, humanism, you name it - its considered progress.
But does PROGRESS (in the philosophical sense) really exist?
What is progress? I would define it as growth and movement towards a positive and holistic end. Perhaps my definition is unfair, but I feel that Progress is an illusion.
History is, as we know it, written by the victorious - not necessarily the most 'progressed'. Also for progress to exist it seems to be the case that an END must also exist, to which progress can be aimed towards - and I don't see any holistic positive end in our future. Furthermore it is well understood that there is no such thing as progress in Evolution. Evolution is the "drunkard's walk", in that evolution has no goal, purpose, or what-have-you, rather it is simply about genetic replication. Humans are NOT the most complex creatures - very far from actually. We have only been 'humans' for a very short period of time; we are evolution 'kluges', that is, organic Rube-Goldberg Machines; we humans are physically weak and clumsy in comparison to most animal species - the only thing we got on them is a little ability called language which is most likely epiphenomenal to evolution anyhow, that is, more accidental than the accident of evolution itself.
Furthermore science itself doesn't seem to actually 'progress'. As Thomas Khun postulated, science goes through 'paradigm shifts' in which newer and grander theories displace older and weaker ones. People attempt to reformulate this notion of paradigm shifts and say that the NEW paradigm is better than the old one - thus we have progressed. But that is absurd. Perhaps the new scientific paradigm DOES allow us to explain more than the previous theory - but this is not a case of progress, it is a case of a superior theory defeating a weaker one. Perhaps the old theory will come back as information changes. Perhaps the theory will actually be replaced by a WORSE theory.
For me to accept the notion of progress, two criteria MUST be fulfilled:
(1) The END aim of consciousness must be formulated; what is progress aimed at? (or perhaps showing that my understanding of progress is DEAD-wrong)
& (2) Show a true and valid instance of progress.

But I am not a hard-nosed crank - Perhaps I am dead wrong and a parsimonious concept of progress might suffice in convincing me.
Thus you should type up your arguments IN FAVOR of progress.
thisoneguy

Pro

I thank my opponent for posting this debate, however it is not a subject that I would have given a second thought to, let alone choose to debate on, but having pondered on the subject it opened my mind enough to decide on accepting the challenge.

"PROGRESS" (in the philosophical sense)

It's certainly not something that can be seen with the eyes, nor touched with the hands, otherwise the blind would go through life unable to bare witness to it's existence, as so many people with 20/20 vision do anyway, when Malcolm Forbes said "The best vision is insight." I believe he could have been referring to an inner progress to which we may all at some point be able to claim a valid stake to, but have no full control over it in ourselves, though we can point it's direction for others to progressively or eventually acknowledge.

I would agree it's definition can be described "as a growth and movement towards a positive and holistic end", but intend to defend tooth and nail it being a mere illusion as suggested by both yourself and anyone who ever committed suicide in self defence.

I firmly believe in the "line of progress",and to every line lays two ends, where if you are not towing it you are being progressively towed by it. giving two continuously opposite directional movements, preceding, and receding, both progressive in nature, so your statement, "we humans are physically weak and clumsy in comparison to most animal species - the only thing we got on them is a little ability called language",,, overlooks our uniqueness of having the essential tool for progression called our conscience, how else could Eric Hoffer's opinion be valid when he wrote,"Animals can learn, but it is not by learning that they become dogs, cats, or horses. Only man has to learn to become what he is supposed to be"?.

Now I know that just because we may be able to learn what we are supposed to become, no way implies that it's achievable or not, but the very fact that we learned it in the first place must be considered as progress

There is no person living who can prove it does or does not exist, regardless of sources used. If I were to highlight that in the UK for example, the government are going to raise retirement age by another five years, because people are notably living longer, and the budget for state pensions can't sustain the pressure of being overstretched, then it could be considered by some as progress in it's self, but then you get others saying there is no benefit in living longer if there is no "progress" in life to live for, which reminds me of a guy (who's name escapes me) he invented the Kodak 35mm camera,then some years later, left a suicide note stating "My work is done here, why wait". this for me reiterates, the argument that "the intellectual are stupid". "stupid" meaning distracted from real progression, and purpose.

Here's a spiritual example of a christian who has truly been born again, (Again meaning "upward", source dictionary) Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success, the only people that would argue against the progress given in this example, are people that have never experienced it, thus not in a position to argue.

I hope this debate is very much in the lines you were looking for.
Debate Round No. 1
asyetundefined

Con

Thank You PRO for engaging in this debate!

Firstly it must be noted that you have not identified 'progress'; no formulation of it, nor a proper non-anecdotal instance of it.
Since we conditionally agree that progress is "growth and movement towards a positive and holistic end" - to accept the existence of progress the 'positive and holistic' end must be shown, and instances of 'growth and movement' toward that end must also be shown.

I will utterly agree that we humans are 'unique' - but how does that relate to progress in the sense we discuss? If one could somehow show that each of our individual personalities was some contributing to the total advancement of some universal aim - I would grant it as progress; but we humans are not contributing to a universal aim - 'uniqueness' is about how we are different - not part of a sum total.
Learning is also not necessarily an instance of progress, unless we were willing to say that there is some total end-goal wherein all learning will cease and omnipotence is achieved; that is, learning, to be considered progress, must have some total epistemic aim. The prospect that there is some objective end-point to learning and knowledge is frightening, very totalitarian!
"There are no whole truths: all truths are half-truths. It is trying to treat them as whole truths that plays the devil"
-Alfred North Whitehead

"If God held all Truth in His Right hand and in His left hand the eternal Quest for Truth, and said to me, "Choose!" I would with courage touch His left and say, "Father, give me this!" The pure Truth is fit for You alone."
-G.E. Lessing

Furthermore, you seem to equate 'progress' with 'purpose':
"you get others saying there is no benefit in living longer if there is no "progress" in life to live for"
These concepts might share similarities but are not the same thing - one does not denote the other. If there is no overarching necessity for progress then you can steer your life towards whatever you wish - it just will not be considered 'progress'. In addition the 'Christian spirituality' anecdote gives no credence toward 'progress'. For the anecdote to work as an argument you would need firstly to prove the existence of the spiritual power to which you are aimed at (that is, prove the existence of God(s)); secondly you would need to show the existence of that spiritual powers' 'plan' to which we are aimed towards; and finally you would need to show that 'keeping together', working together', and such are all instances of progress towards the spiritual powers' plan - and this CANNOT be done, shown, formulated, realized - what-have-you, the anecdote does not show 'progress'.

I hope the debate continues forward - I would love to hear a real formulation of progress that doesn't leave it as being a 'necessary fiction'.
thisoneguy

Pro

thisoneguy forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
asyetundefined

Con

asyetundefined forfeited this round.
thisoneguy

Pro

thisoneguy forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
asyetundefined

Con

It is very unfortunate that PRO has withdrawn or neglected this argument, it had a lot of room for interesting dialectic...
Argument carries...
thisoneguy

Pro

thisoneguy forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by wjmelements 8 years ago
wjmelements
Forfeit fail...
Posted by asyetundefined 8 years ago
asyetundefined
I made a slight word error in my first post. In the last paragraph I said "consciousness" when I meant "Progress"...
Posted by asyetundefined 8 years ago
asyetundefined
To SUPERPERFUNDO - I would have loved to have had you give a scientific formulation of progress! However I must confess that although I LOVE science it offers the weakest examples towards progress - "drunkard's walk" of evolution, and the paradigm shifts of theory
Posted by asyetundefined 8 years ago
asyetundefined
I agree with BREWMASTER that I have offered an 'narrow' definition of progress; but any other definition would be insufficient. imagine if we defined progress as JUST social advancement, or JUST historical advancement - is it still truly 'progress' or merely movement within certain contexts and confines?
Posted by Brewmaster 8 years ago
Brewmaster
Ah, but you put your definition for philosophical "progress" in such a tiny little box, then demand proofs that are well outside of the scope of your severely restricted terminology. I could argue for a progress of society, history, or human spirit, but not on the terms you offer. Sorry.
Posted by Nail_Bat 8 years ago
Nail_Bat
Well, I could debate the science aspect of this, it quite definitely does progress.

The historical aspect I kind of agree with CON on though, things just change, not necessarily in any sort of direction. It's kind of silly I think to imagine society as having a "goal", although we can zoom into periods in history where things did "progress" toward some sort of end, at least in specific parts of the world.
Posted by Justinisthecrazy 8 years ago
Justinisthecrazy
History isn't always written by the victor, perhaps the one your aware of yes, but with all things there really are two sides to how history is written and depnds on what event and what stance one had on the even that occured. To say that history was written by the victorious is only a half-truth.
Posted by SuperPerfundo 8 years ago
SuperPerfundo
awesome topic, if i had more time i would take it up

I think as DNA is essentially a virus, the goal is to replicate and further the species, even if blindly. I think progress could be termed as increasing our ability to replicate and live longer, even if it is to no determinable end.

Maybe our technological 'advancements' have enabled us to live longer and replicate more, protecting the future of our species. But, at the same time, we now have the ability to destroy the entire world in minutes.....
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Maikuru 8 years ago
Maikuru
asyetundefinedthisoneguyTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:70 
Vote Placed by Sedylitz 8 years ago
Sedylitz
asyetundefinedthisoneguyTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:70 
Vote Placed by asyetundefined 8 years ago
asyetundefined
asyetundefinedthisoneguyTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:70