Anthony O’Hear: After Progress

Finding the Old Way Forward    

Bloomsbury, 1999

Book Description:

O'HearAs we stand on the brink of the third millennium, a large part of the human race may feel justified in a certain complacency. We are very much in thrall to the idea that history is moving forward in a desirable – or progressive – direction, and that overall in the world things are getting better. In After Progress, the philosopher Anthony O’Hear argues that we need to temper our optimism and self-assurance: that progress is not inevitable in any field, let alone over the whole canvas of human life and experience. He questions whether we are now on the brink of anything remarkable or worthy of comparison with the achievements of earlier ages, and suggests that in certain fields – religion, art, music, literature – we are clearly not.

O’Hear believes that our era is one of technological progress and of individual rights and needs, and that our institutions and economies are largely geared to promoting these. After Progress examines the implications of this state of affairs: that for most of us there is nothing worth striving for beyond individual comfort and happiness, the latter of which increasingly eludes most of us; that there is little in our common culture to sustain ideas of excellence in serious pursuits. It addresses the question of real happiness and satisfaction – of rediscovering truth ad transcendence – and probes the dimensions that cannot be accounted for in scientific terms: love and beauty, the sense of moral obligation and reason itself. After Progress is a potent examination of our position at the end of the millennium, and could change the way we approach the future.

About the Author:

Anthony O’Hear is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Bradford and Director of the Royal Institute of Philosophy. He has contributed to many national publications, the Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mail and the Daily Express, and is the author of a number of books on philosophy, including What Philosophy Is and Beyond Evolution.

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All original writing and photography © Jan Olof Bengtsson

"A Self-realized being cannot help benefiting the world. His very existence is the highest good."
Ramana Maharshi