Knowledge and Progress
- To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark. ― Victor Hugo
Progress is a very wide and nebulous concept. Depending on the nature of the progress being considered (e.g. economic, spiritual, moral, health, political the notion of progress is argued by some that it may not be inevitable and from an observers perspective will appear from time to time to slow or even dive back into the past for possible redirection or rebirth (e.g. - The Dark Ages)
Progress in human knowledge if well defined is really part of the nature of things. Blaise Pascal the French philosopher and mathematician wrote: Not only does each individual progress from day to day but mankind as a whole constantly progresses... in proportion as the universe grows older. as noted by Charles van Doren. There is of course, as in most things, a philosophical argument that progress is not inevitable.
If there is progress then it appears reasonable to assume that a human's capacity to achieve progress is built on the accumulation of the experiences of past generations (p xv, A History of Knowledge, Van Doren, Charles,1991). The rate of increase varies considerably from age to age. Charles van Doren notes that the 5th Century BC was a rapid time of knowledge development.
It is often said the history repeats itself or as the Italian political philosopher Nicolo Machiavelli cautioned Whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past…For human events ever resemble those of preceding times.
Due to various inventions and organisations of human labor such as writing, the book, schools and churches to name but a few the memory of the human race is as far as we can see, eternal. The inevitable destruction of the Earth at some point suggests that the memory is as eternal as is humanity itself.
Prior to the invention of Knowledge and Literaturethe universality of knowledge would have taken many generations and was dependent on the oral traditions of story in song and speech.
Writing enabled an acceleration in the accuracy and distribution of knowledge to all of humanity
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