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The Story of Industrial Civilization: Is Progress Good?

March 27, 2022 at 10:00 am - 1:00 pm PDT

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Progress writer Jason Crawford is writing a book about the modern world and how it was invented. In a series of salons, we will explore this content together, chapter by chapter, and get an inside look at the author’s creative process.

Behind the world of our daily lives, there is a hidden world, one that keeps our world running. It is an industrial world, one of factories, engines, chemicals, and infrastructure, that most people rarely notice or appreciate. But every piece of it is a solution to a problem: a way to satisfy human needs in the face of nature’s constraints.

Session 11 – Is Progress Good?

By now we’ve seen how our quality of life has been vastly improved across the board: material abundance, global connectedness, increased health and safety. It may seem self-evident that these developments have been a massive boon to humanity. But nothing is self-evident, and the facts of history do not interpret themselves. There is a vigorous debate raging about whether all of this technological and industrial progress has been a good thing. Some argue that progress has come at a terrible cost: to the environment, to job security, to our physical and mental health. Others argue that even the benefits of progress are illusory: money doesn’t make us happier, material comfort doesn’t satisfy our spiritual values, and technology doesn’t make us more moral. Economic growth is variously referred to as an “addiction”, a “fetish”, a “Ponzi scheme”, or a “fairy tale”; one movement even promotes “degrowth”. So—is progress good? Let’s discuss.

Crawford will open the salon by talking about his research and writing on the topic so far, followed by discussion and Q&A.


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March 27, 2022
10:00 am - 1:00 pm PDT
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