Hello! This is my first post on “The Unified Theory of Psychology” blog. I look forward to seeing where this blog goes. It is my hope that many good ideas and fruitful discourse come from it…as I suspect will be the case!
In Gregg’s most recent post, he made mention on how the academy’s “focus on ‘what is’” has brought about a disconnect from ‘what ought to be’. He then offered a basic summary of “scientific knowledge in narrative form” which concluded as follows:
- And yet there remains much uncertainty. With technology has come an unprecedented capacity to destroy the planet. Resources are being used up, populations are exploding, and planetary wide changes are occurring in ecologies around the world. And although technology continues to evolve at an astounding pace, it is not clear that humanity’s wisdom has likewise increased. Instead, the divisions between nations, religions, ideologies, and ethnicities seem as rigid and fragmented as ever, and it is not hard to envision how serious disruptions in available resources might lead to wide-scale devastation, perhaps even the elimination of the human species.
Upon reading this, I am reminded of words penned over 130 years ago by 19th century political economist and social philosopher, Henry George. In his book, Progress & Poverty, George articulated what he called The Law of Human Progress.
Those familiar with Gregg’s Tree of Knowledge System may see much in common with George’s analysis below:
- WHAT, THEN, IS THE LAW OF HUMAN PROGRESS? This law not only describes how civilization advances — it must also account for arrested, decayed, and destroyed civilizations. Since mankind presumably started with the same capacities at the same time, it must explain the great disparity in social development that now exists. It must account for regression, as well as progression; for different rates of progress; and for the bursts and starts and halts. In short, it must tell us what the essential conditions of progress are — and which social arrangements advance it and which retard it.It is not difficult to discover such a law. If we simply look, we can see it. I do not pretend to give it scientific precision, but merely to point it out.
Desires inherent in human nature are the incentives to progress: to satisfy our physical, intellectual, and emotional wants. Short of infinity, they can never be satisfied — for they grow as they are fed.
Mind is the instrument by which humanity advances. Through it, each advance is retained and made higher ground for further advances. The narrow span of human life allows each individual to go only a short distance. Each generation does little by itself. Yet succeeding generations add to the gains of their ancestors, and gradually elevate humanity.
Mental power is, therefore, the motor of progress. Civilizations advance in proportion to the mental power expended in progression — that is, mental power devoted to the extension of knowledge, the improvement of methods, and the betterment of social conditions. There is a limit to the amount of work that can be done with the mind, just as there a limit to the work that can be done with the body. Therefore, the mental power that can be devoted to progress is only what is left over after what is required for other, non-progressive purposes.
These non-progressive purposes, which consume mental power, can be classified in two categories: maintenance and conflict. Maintenance includes not only supporting existence, but also keeping up social conditions and holding advances already gained. Conflict includes not only war or preparation for war; it encompasses all mental power expended seeking gratification at the expense of others, and resisting such aggression.
If we compare society to a boat, we see its progress is not based on the total exertion of the crew. Rather, it depends only on exertion devoted to propelling it. The total is reduced by any force expended on bailing, or fighting among themselves, or pulling in different directions.
A person living alone would need all of his or her powers just to maintain existence. Mental power is set free for higher uses only when human beings associate in communities. Improvement becomes possible when people come together in peaceful association. This permits the division of labor — and all the economies that come from cooperation. The wider and the closer the association, the greater the possibilities of improvement. Therefore, association is the first essential of progress.
Mental power is wasted in conflict to the extent moral law is ignored — for moral law gives each person equality of rights. The terms equality or justice signify the same thing here: the recognition of moral law. So equality, or justice, is the second essential of progress.
Association frees mental power for improvement. Equality keeps this power from dissipating in fruitless struggles. We thus arrive at our law:
Association in equality is the law of human progress.
In a world of “divisions between nations, religions, ideologies, and ethnicities [that] seem as rigid and fragmented as ever”, then perhaps it is worth considering George’s “Law of Human Progress” as an important step to reconnect “what is” to “what ought to be”.