Friday, 23 March 2012

Are 'things' getting better, worse, or staying the same?

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Most people in the modern world believe in, that is live by, progress. They believe that things have been and are getting better.

They especially believe things are getting better in relation to morality.

For example, they believe that societies without slavery are better than those with slavery, and not better ceteris paribus but better full stop. Abolition is a very recent thing in human history, so these people believe in progress.

Similar arguments apply to the belief in pacifism, or the belief that capital punishment is wrong, or that equality is a good thing; recent ideas, geographically restricted.

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'Progress' should not - properly - refer to material progress - improvements in societal capability power, comfort, prosperity (or, to do that would be to re-write the meaning of progress, to change the subject about progress): rather 'progress' should refer to The Good.

The Good is a unity of Truth, Beauty and Virtue - from the above we see that modern people believe in moral progress. But moral progress entails progress in Beauty and Truth also.

Yet we know that both Beauty and Truthfulness have declined; have declined over a times span of decades and in our own personal and direct experience.  

Thus we know that Beauty and Truth have declined, and yet our society acts as if Virtue has increased...

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The conclusion is that Virtue has of course declined; and we have merely re-labelled decline as progress (moral inversion - the essence of political correctness) - just as the professionals of 'modern art' assert progress from the music, paintings, architecture and poetry of the past up until now by re-labelling.

This kind of artistic 'progress' assumed by modern art entails 'discovering' that deliberate ugliness by talentless charlatans is actually Beautiful; just as a belief in the progress of Truth entails 'discovering' that the vast and hourly invasive world of advertising, public relations, propaganda and media manipulation is, somehow, Truthful.

So, we really have to drop the idea of progress.

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But are things perhaps staying the same - is the world just as Virtuous now as it ever was, only the balance of Virtues is different - is Virtue a homoeostatic mechanism whereby progress is one area is exactly matched by decline in another area?

Have things always been - overall - the same as they are now?

People often say so - that things have not changed, complaints are the same in all ages, swings and roundabouts etc... but what an absurd idea!

Whence came this supposed homoeostatic mechanism that somehow keeps society as good or bad as ever - or makes Virtue oscillate about a mean such that excesses in either direction are self-correcting?

In fact, this belief in homoeostasis simply serves as an instruction to ignore the past and future and accept the present - which, as alienated creatures, we simply cannot do. It is a counsel of existential despair - and one which is arbitrary and groundless.

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So we are left with the conviction of decline. Decline in The Good: in Truth, Beauty and Virtue.

Behind the local and temporal oscillations, a long term decline...

This must be true from our experience, and was, indeed, common knowledge for centuries.

It is a familiar view to all who have read the greatest and most enduringly popular work of modern times: Tolkien's Lord of the Rings

So that is the answer: things are getting worse.

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