As promised, I am re-posting part 2 of my review of Matthew Slaboch’s beautiful book “A Road to Nowhere: The Idea of Progress and Its Critics.” Enjoy!
Review (part 2 of 2) of Matthew W. Slaboch, A Road to Nowhere: The Idea of Progress and Its Critics (U Penn Press, 2018).
In my previous post, I mentioned that the concept of progress might have a cultural or spatial dimension, one of the most important ideas I learned from reading Slaboch’s book on anti-progress. Here, I shall discuss another insightful idea in Slaboch’s book, what I call “the paradox of the anti-progress canon.” Simply put, why should anyone bother to improve man’s lot or change the course of history for the better if the ideal of progress is bullshit?
Slaboch presents this dire paradox in the chapter devoted to Henry Adams (Chapter 3), who attempted to apply the law of physics to the study of history. Briefly, Adams’s view of world history was a pessimistic one (p. 80): social and political collapse are inevitable; all such systems will…
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