The collapse of illuminist idea of progress


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The collapse of illuminist idea of progress

  1. 1. THE COLLAPSE OF ILLUMINIST IDEA OF PROGRESS Fernando Alcoforado * The idea of "progress" in social thought came with the Industrial Revolution in the eighteenth century. From eighteenth to the twentieth century, we started to believe that the only reliable means of improving the human condition come from the new machines, chemicals and the different techniques. Including social and environmental problems created by rare times by technological advances have affected this faith. There is a widespread belief that there is a positive link between technical development and human well -being and that the next wave of innovations will provide even greater progress. But is it possible to say that mankind has progressed with the advancement of science? The facts of reality show that scientific knowledge has not brought the desired progress for humanity because science and technology, although they are shaping our lives for the better, are, in many situations, making them more dangerous. To illustrate, in the first forty years of the twentieth century was more a revolution in physics, as a result bringing an understanding of the structure of atoms and of the means by which the energy could be released from them, but in return, these ideas were later applied in the construction of nuclear weapons of mass destruction. Over the past twenty-five years of the twentieth century another revolution occurred, now in biology with each further deepening in the search of the genetic structure of living organisms, having already developed the means to manipulate the genetic material in the laboratory or other basic components of life. The overall conclusion is that, in the end, this could lead to a sinister biological technology that would be employed for evil purposes as occurred with the Nuclear Physics to develop nuclear weapons. But ultimately, what is the progress of humanity? Progress means move forward as synonymous with advancement and progression. Progress can be defined as an additive process in which the latest stage is always considered better and better, that is qualitatively superior to that preceded it. In this sense, the change occurs in a particular direction and this progression is interpreted as an improvement over the previous situation. Thus, the change is oriented rather it is required, that is, it cannot stop the progress and is irreversible, that is, no return to the past is possible. The improvement was inevitable. Tomorrow will always be better than today. In his book The End of Progress - How modern economics has failed us, published by John Wiley & Sons in 2011, Graeme Maxton said that mankind is moving backwards. Mankind is destroying the planet rather than building it. Each year, the world economy grows by approximately U.S.$ 1.5 trillion. But each year, humanity devastates the planet at a cost of $ 4.5 trillion. Humanity is moving in the opposite direction causing greater losses than wealth it creates. Maxton said that mankind has experienced rapid economic growth, but also created an unstable world. According Maxton, in many countries, for the first time in centuries, we face the fall in life expectancy and the prospect of declining food production and water supplies, as well as the depletion of natural resources like oil. Everything that is happening in the world conspires against everything he preached from the Enlightenment of the eighteenth century, when a group of thinkers began to mobilize in defense of ideas that guided the renovation of existing practices and institutions across Europe, raising questions that philosophical thought about the condition and happiness of man. The Enlightenment movement systematically attacked
  2. 2. all that was deemed contrary to the pursuit of happiness, justice and equality. What can be seen today across the planet is the antithesis of what the Enlightenment advocated. It should be noted that the Enlightenment thought elected the "reason" as the great instrument of reflection can improve and take more equitable and functional institutions. Everything that happens today in the world we live denies the thought of Immanuel Kant, one of the philosophers of the Enlightenment, which saw history moving toward the better [Kant, Immanuel. Ideia de uma história universal de um ponto de vista cosmopolita (Idea of a universal history from a cosmopolitan point of view). São Paulo: Brasiliense, 1986] . Not only thinkers like Immanuel Wallerstein, Jacques Attali. Eric Hobsbawm and François Chesnais, among others, predicted or predict a catastrophic future for humanity in the twenty-first century. As they join two thinkers: John Casti, a mathematician and phD, theories of systems and complexity specialist, and Edgar Morin, anthropologist, French sociologist and philosopher, emeritus researcher at the CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris). About the future of humanity, John Casti the addresses in his book O Colapso de Tudo - Os Eventos Extremos que Podem Destruir a Civilização a Qualquer Momento (The Collapse of Everything - The Extreme Events that can Destroy Civilization to Anytime) (Rio: Editora Intrínseca Ltda, 2012) and Edgar Morin in his book Vers l' abîme? (Towards the Abyss?) ( Cahiers de L' Herne, 2007). In his book The Collapse of Everything - The Extreme Events That Can Destroy Civilization to Anytime, John Casti argues that our society is becoming so complex and interconnected that the collapse is almost inevitable. Casti outlined scenarios of widespread and lasting interruption of internet, the exhaustion of the global food supply system, a continental electromagnetic pulse that destroys all electronics, the collapse of globalization, the destruction of Earth by creating exotic particles, destabilization of the nuclear scenario, the end of the global oil supply, a global pandemic, the lack of electricity and drinking water, intelligent robots that surpass humanity and global deflation and the collapse of global financial markets. In turn, in his book Vers l' abîme? Edgar Morin considers the inevitability of disaster that threatens humanity in which, according to him, the improbable becomes possible. The title of the book in the form of interrogation comes from the certainty of the abyss. "Humanity avoid this disaster or resume from the disaster? The global crisis that opens and amplifies leads to disaster or exceed?" Edgar Morin proves that the global crisis worsened and the dominant political thought is unable to formulate a policy of civilization and humanity. The world is at the beginning of the chaos, and the only prospect is a metamorphosis, with the emergence of transformation and regeneration forces. Morin argues that modernity has created three myths: that of controlling the universe, the progress and achievement of happiness. The enormous development of science, technology, economics, capitalism, has increased in an unprecedented manner the invention, but also the capacity for destruction. The reason inherited from the Enlightenment imposed the idea of a fully intelligible universe. The scientific and technical progress has led to human emancipation as always, but the collective death has also become possible as never before. The technological, scientific, medical, social, progress manifested in the form of destruction of the biosphere, cultural destruction, creating new inequalities and new easements. Morin defends the thesis that the world
  3. 3. society is not civilized, in contrast, is barbaric. Morin says that we are on the collapse of the Enlightenment and its promises. Morin defends the thesis that is open to the need for a real transformation in the global social organization with the formation of a new type of society, a society - world. The global economic, social and environmental catastrophe will be inevitable if humanity does not build this world - society that incorporates all people worldwide through a democratic world government and be able to plan and control chaotic systems that threaten the survival of mankind. Only then can avoid depression of the world economy, the exhaustion of natural resources of the planet, the overcrowded cities and global catastrophic climate change, beyond the lack of internet and power and the emergence of global pandemics systems. * Alcoforado, Fernando, engineer and doctor of Territorial Planning and Regional Development from the University of Barcelona, a university professor and consultant in strategic planning, business planning, regional planning and planning of energy systems, is the author of Globalização (Editora Nobel, São Paulo, 1997), De Collor a FHC- O Brasil e a Nova (Des)ordem Mundial (Editora Nobel, São Paulo, 1998), Um Projeto para o Brasil (Editora Nobel, São Paulo, 2000), Os condicionantes do desenvolvimento do Estado da Bahia (Tese de doutorado. Universidade de Barcelona,, 2003), Globalização e Desenvolvimento (Editora Nobel, São Paulo, 2006), Bahia- Desenvolvimento do Século XVI ao Século XX e Objetivos Estratégicos na Era Contemporânea (EGBA, Salvador, 2008), The Necessary Conditions of the Economic and Social Development-The Case of the State of Bahia (VDM Verlag Dr. Muller Aktiengesellschaft & Co. KG, Saarbrücken, Germany, 2010), Aquecimento Global e Catástrofe Planetária (P&A Gráfica e Editora, Salvador, 2010), Amazônia Sustentável- Para o progresso do Brasil e combate ao aquecimento global (Viena- Editora e Gráfica, Santa Cruz do Rio Pardo, São Paulo, 2011) and Os Fatores Condicionantes do Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (Editora CRV, Curitiba, 2012), among others.