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!
Surviving Progress (Documentary, 2011)