Lenoir: What Progress Is and What It Is Not
There are a few words which express the highest of human aspirations. One hears them every day, on every occasion, on everyone’s lips. These words generally create a good effect, but what they express is so vague, so ill-defined — each party or school having such different and even contradictory ideas about them — that it would be good to come to terms with the worth and the meaning of several of these words, so as not to be too incoherent. Among all of these words (of which I have no intention of making an exhaustive list) one might especially note liberty, association, progress, etc. With such terms some would wish to put society in jeopardy, while others claim that society accomplishes immense progress on their behalf. Does it, or doesn’t it? Let us examine this important problem with the finest method at our command. The examination should not be undertaken from a general point of view only, society taken, as it commonly is, in the mass. It is clear that this manner of envisaging situations produces confusion. It is moreover clear that one cannot adequately understand the whole of a situation if one does not perfectly understand all of the details. Let us therefore begin with a detailed examination, in so doing ascending to the whole. Let us inspect the march of society under the triple aspect of activity1 legislation and mores.
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