The Hope of Progress

  • Michael Grant


In this second reading from Enemies of Hope, Tallis defends the values of the Enlightenment and a chastened version of the Enlightenment project, freed of its scientistic and totalitarian aspirations. This means mounting a defence of certain universal values, in opposition to the relativism of much contemporary thought. The minimal principles Tallis wishes to propose are, first, that the individual has the right to choose whether he or she lives or dies, and, second, that we should favour those values that leave individuals who do not share them most free to act in accordance with their own differing values. Out of these minimal or basic principles others — such as accountability and rationality — may be derived. In explaining these ideas, Tallis recognises that there is in what he says a strand of utopianism. However, despite the catastrophic results of Utopian ideals during the twentieth century, he is convinced that the two major strands of the hope of progress — first, to alleviate suffering (the world of means), and, second, to extend the capacities of human beings to realise new possibilities (the world of ends) — are essential if mankind is to find any meaning in its struggle to get beyond the brute desire for survival. It is in creativity that the possibilities of human life find their true realisation, and the enemies of creativity, he insists, are such physical and political realities as pain, unreasonable oppression, unchallenged cruelty, unaccountable government, hunger and fear.


Reasoning Faculty Humanist Intellectual Interpretive Community Utopian Vision Enlightenment Project 
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Copyright information

© Raymond Tallis 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Grant
    • 1
  1. 1.Rutherford CollegeThe University of KentCanterburyUK

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