making ‘progress’: Introduction [1]

March 7, 2008

I’ve heard this term ‘progress’ used so much by so many people. What is ‘progress’?

Progress (noun)* :

  • advancement: gradual improvement or growth or development; “advancement of knowledge”; “great progress in the arts”
  • a movement forward; “he listened for the progress of the troops”
  • build up: form or accumulate steadily; “Resistance to the manager’s plan built up quickly”; “Pressure is building up at the Indian-Pakistani border”
    wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn
  • *Of course I’m showing only the definitions of ‘progress’ as a noun: define: Progress

    It’s not that I have a problem with this word per se. The problem I’m having with this word is how meaningless its definition has become. The word has been castrated by continually abusive use; Google Search: progressive culture
    This term ‘progressive’ used to describe the state of a culture is so common, and yet so: subjective, (often) ethnocentric, and even propagandic** (glittering generalities***).

    **I am using this term to describe something as a form of propaganda. It appears LangMaker agrees.
    ***Linked material written by Brendan Boehr from“The Legitimacy Farm” – 2007

    Example: Relevant Magazine (under: “Your Voice”)

    Now, I’m not trying to pick on anyone here but this website uses ‘progressive’ in exactly the fashion I worry about. They may be justified in using the term (though very doubtful in this example), but they certainly are not providing any form of reasoning as to what distinguishes a progressive culture to a non-progressive culture. How can one define their own culture as progressive when this relative term is (1) not being used in comparison to anything, and (2) no actual definition whatsoever [even informal] is written. This word ‘progressive’ in this context is so general, and because of its connotations, becomes ‘propagandic’ in nature

    Example: DOES SCIENCE PROGRESS:

    Though I have defined science as progressive, I admit it is not possible to know if the knowledge uncovered by the scientific method is positive (“certain”), or not, because we have no outside source–no Archimedean point–from which to view Reality.” – Michael Shermer

    I know this example does not have to do with culture really, but I thought I should provide an example of restrained usage of the word ‘progressive’. (perhaps restrained isn’t the best choice of words). It seems that Micheal Shermer also wants to use the term ‘progress’ carefully, as he clearly wants to have the usage of this word remain neutral.

    end of part 1
    Notes Summary:
    *Of course I’m showing only the definitions of ‘progress’ as a noun: define: Progress
    **I am using this term “Propagandic” to describe something as a form of propaganda. It appears LangMaker agrees.
    ***”The Legitimacy Fram”: Linked material written by Brendan Boehr from“The Legitimacy Farm” – 2007