Progress originates from the Latin word prōgressus meaning “forward movement, advance, development”.The stem of prōgressus, which is prōgredī means to go forward, proceed, to advance, develop and progress. In the origins of Anglo-Norman, Middle French and Cataln, progress is in relation to a physical onward movement, military successes or advancements and improvements; therefore, progress is attached to the idea of resulting improvement.
OED defines progress as “advancement to a further or higher stage” that leads to a “better state or condition”. Progress is seen only as the result that yields success and improvement. And, it becomes the route of guidance that people follow and aim for because it is the positive outcome to a process. Therefore, anything opposite from progress becomes undesirable.
Progress is now objectified to be measured. Countries compare progress in society, economy and politics and the one with the most progress is determined to be the most desirable and developed country. Progress in society is measured by the GDP of a country, which debates whether progress is now measured by money. Nonetheless, in some cases, but not all, the living conditions generally improve with the wealth of the country. However, there will always be inhabitants who remain unaffected by the progress in the country. Social progress within the country is measured by one’s rights and freedom as an individual. Economic progress is measured by the increase of country’s wealth over time. As long as the wealth increases, the economy will be seen as progressing.
Progress is typically viewed as a linear path in which the “desirable direction” leads to improvement. Darwin’s theory of evolution suggests that humans have progressed from apes to sophisticated communicative human beings. Therefore, regression is understood as returning to its less developed state, or to the beginning of evolution. Many ancient thinkers believed the path of progress takes on a “cyclical, trend-less movement” rather than our present view of a linear path.
Multiple progress traps in history has proven that too much progress ruins societies. A progress trap refers to a situation where progress results in a downfall of the society. One example dates back to the Stone Age, when weapon innovations in hunting led to the extinctions of large animals.
Today, advancement in the nuclear research is an example of a progress trap that risks the possibility of wiping out the population. Progress, nonetheless, has led to further improvement in our knowledge and will continue to do so. However, progress can go both ways: to the path of improvement or to the path of destruction.
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3. Idea of Progress - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idea_of_Progress (accessed November 21, 2012).
4. A Short History of Progress - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Short_History_of_Progress (accessed November 21, 2012).