The October 2013 Lexington Philosophy Forum Meeting

The topic of discussion will be:

The March of Progress

Moderator: Jeremy Parnell

Alright, I'll admit it. I stole the title for this topic from the famous scientific illustration depicting human evolution from the ancient Pliopithecus to the Modern Man. But this is exactly what I would like to talk about in October's Philosophy Forum Meeting. Progress. Improvement. Moving towards something better than the condition in which humans find themselves today.

Whether or not we can get "there" is a long running debate among philosophers. I'd like to talk about that. I would also like to imagine what "there" is. What are we marching towards with every beat of the drum of scientific discovery, with every cultural barrier surmounted, with every problem solved? What is the hoped for product of all this progress? What is it that we feel is lost whenever we encounter a regress?

I can't imagine that the March of Progress has or will be easy. Modern humans have been bumbling about the Earth for give or take 50,000 years. Most of that time we've been poking at the world with spears, bows, and arrows. Now we've got nuke bombs and laser beams, but still we're operating with only a slightly more evolved brain than that of chimpanzees. Are we physically equipped to handle the rapid acceleration of technological progress? Do we have what it takes to face the new problems we create, whenever we... progress? What are the pitfalls and traps we might find along the way as we strive to improve the human condition?

If we imagine God as some great scientist in the sky, populating the world with human beings as part of a grand experiment, how's that experiment going? I'd love to find out. Let's talk!

Suggested readings:

Suggested viewing:

Surviving Progress (Documentary, 2011)

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  • Kasha B.

    Hello all. I'm curious if a meetup has been scheduled for the month of November?

    November 6, 2013

    • Jeremy

      Yes, a new one was schedule for the 20th. Hope to see you there!

      November 7, 2013

  • Kasha B.

    Great discussion and an excellent evening. Thank you all for being so welcoming and facilitating the conversation through your thoughts and insights. I'm looking forward to next month.

    1 · October 12, 2013

  • Jeff

    Well done Jeremy - I've been spending the morning reviewing my Hegel thanks to you. I just can't keep it all straight.

    October 10, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I talked too much. Challenging topic. Good discussion. Good moderator.

    2 · October 10, 2013

    • Jeremy

      Thanks so much for coming. You definitely didn't talk too much. It's a discussion group after all :) You raised some good points and I appreciated your contribution.

      October 10, 2013

    • donna h d.

      always good to have women included

      October 10, 2013

  • donna h d.

    thanx jeremy !

    October 10, 2013

  • Jeremy

    I wanted to thank everyone for coming. By request, here is the tongue-in-cheek timeline graphic that was presented, complete with a Guinness stain:

    I also wanted to link to the "Clock of the Long Now" I mentioned:

    I'm going to hold on to hope and keep thinking long-term, wondering what things might look like in the year 12013.

    Although, don't forget, we will eventually need those spaceships... at some point the Sun will expand and fry whatever is left on this planet, including that clock.

    1 · October 10, 2013

    • Guy

      Thanks for leading the discussion. We look forward to your next endeavor (preferably in less than 10,000 years). BTW, that book I was pushing back in the Phi-fi discussion has connections to the COTLN:­

      October 10, 2013

  • Pete

    Rats! I joined the group just a few hours too late.

    1 · October 9, 2013

  • Sonya S.

    Sorry guys. Was looking forward to this one but now have company coming early. Have fun!

    October 9, 2013

  • Dimitra

    Great topic, Jeremy!

    October 3, 2013

  • Jeff

    A timely topic. I recommend reading Ronald Wrights "A Short History of Progress". Basic premise is that man's evolution has not kept up with his technological innovations. Thin book, quick read, the illustrated version is best. Great examples.

    1 · October 2, 2013

    • Jeremy

      While I haven't read it directly, that book was the basis for the documentary Surviving Progress I linked to (available on Netflix), so great suggestion!

      October 2, 2013

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