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What we call 'Progress' is the exchange of one nuisance for another nuisance. --Havelock Ellis

Related: avant-garde - civil rights - good - Modernism - optimism - progressive music

Contrast: conservative - decadence (decline) - degeneracy (decline) - atavism (regression)


Social progress is defined as a progress of society, which makes the society better in the general view of its members. The concept of social progress was introduced in the early, 19th century social theories, especially those of social darwinists like August Comte and Herbert Spencer.

When it was conceived, the notion of social progress was extremely radical. The reason is that previous to that time, the social order was viewed as unchangeable and immutable, often divinely ordained. In other words, ultimately God had created the social system, and that system as well as the place people had in that system was eternal, constant and permanent (but cyclical, like the seasons). Nothing really changed, and the more it changed, the more it stayed the same; the emphasis was on seeing the constant, eternal aspects in human life. This interpretation of society was very conservative, because even if change occurred, this was merely a superficial aspect of an underlying social order which was eternal. In turn, this way of seeing things was based on a way of life in which very little changed (except seasonally, as with the weather, or the stages of a man's life), and in which people stuck to their station in life, not having or expecting the option or chance of moving out of it to a different station in life. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social progress [Jun 2006]


Progressivism is a political philosophy whose adherents promote public policies that foster social change. As a broad characterization of political leanings, political progressivism mostly refers to social liberalism, social democracy, or green politics. Progressivism may also mean preferring moderate change, as opposed to minimal or maximum change. In this sense, it is contrasted with reactionary, conservative, as well as radical ideology. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressivism [Jun 2006]


Positivism is a philosophy developed by Auguste Comte in the beginning of the 19th century, which stated that the only authentic knowledge is scientific knowledge. It is sometimes refered to, in a pejorative way, as scientism. As an approach to the philosophy of science deriving from Enlightenment thinkers like Pierre-Simon Laplace (and many others), positivism was first systematically theorized by Auguste Comte, who saw the scientific method as replacing metaphysics in the history of thought, and who observed the circular dependence of theory and observation in science. Brazil's national motto, Ordem e Progresso ("Order and Progress") was taken from Comte's positivism, also influential in Poland. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Positivism_%28philosophy%29 [Mar 2006]

In philosophy, postpositivism is, as the prefix indicates, a metatheoretical stance following positivism. One of the main supporters of postpositivism was Sir Karl R. Popper. Other mentioned in connection with postpositivism are John Dewey and Nicholas Rescher.

In the social sciences, postpositivism is used to refer to a group within political theory (mostly comprised of feminists and postmodernists) who do not believe it is possible to view life from an objective point of view. They also value language, speech, and culture when dealing with rational political decisions. It encompasses the group of political theorists who believe that theory both shapes reality and follows it. It is the opposite of sociological positivism. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postpositivism [Mar 2006]

Antipositivism is the view in sociology that social sciences need to create and use different scientific methods than those used in the field of natural sciences. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antipositivism [Mar 2006]

See also: 1900s - Postmodernism

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