TED Conversations

Paul Blake

BBC News

This conversation is closed.

What is progress? A recent essay prompt asked, 'Is history since 1500 the story of progress? Why or Why not?"

How do you define progress? What constitutes progression? What factors are involved? How do you measure it?

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  • Dec 17 2011: Progress is increasing the well-being and happiness level of humanity.
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      Dec 17 2011: This, to me, is also the definition of progress. Though I realise that this is somewhat of a utilitarian definition of progress...
      • Dec 17 2011: You use the word "utilitarian" as though it diminishes the concept. I do not understand. Is "ivory tower" more impressive to you than "utilitarian." Do you prefer "useless," "idealist" or some other concept?
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          Dec 17 2011: No, I don't intend to demean a utilitarian definition of progress -- as I said, it is also my definition of progress. However, my point was to acknowledge that there are other definitions and 'progress' means different things to different people.
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    Dec 15 2011: Progress is growth of knowledge. It is possible in certain societies where criticism and innovation are welcome.
  • Dec 18 2011: Increasing your personal financial worth, losing weight, traveling to all the states within the USA or to all the countries in the world, playing Fur Elise the way Beethoven intended it to be played or as the listener or player most enjoys hearing it played.......I guess it depends on your personal goals. I presume you are speaking of societal progress. If eliminating poverty is a goal of US society, than we are in regress. I guess there is no definition that makes sense unless you specify your goals.