The Power of Progress

The reason governments and religion should be afraid of air pumps and electrical machines is simply because scientific advancement is such a powerful tool. Whoever holds the newest technology inevitably holds more power over those who don’t have access or understanding of it. In Priestley’s eyes, conflict from the outside world looked like progress, but the fear generated by the public was much more violent than helpful. The most topical version of this situation happening today is the large number of people who believe the science surrounding COVID-19 is a hoax. While not actively burning down the homes of scientists, these people have been known to meet up in huge groups just to protest against wearing masks. In a way, they are inciting violence and death even without knowing that is what they are doing. 

A technological fix is the idea that technology is a ‘cure-all’ for society. This view puts some amount of pressure on scientists and engineers to fix problems in society that previously were on the shoulders of social scientists. These technological fixes have been increasingly popular after World War II partly due to rallies that went around glorifying them. In general, this was a period of technological advancements for the modern consumer. Many everyday items that make our lives easier were created during this period. We are warned against the reliance on these fixes however. Humans are constantly in competition with nature and trying to improve on it which is proven in many cases to not even be possible. There is a delicate balance there that humans have little problem messing with but could lead to larger problems if left unchecked.

3 thoughts on “The Power of Progress

  1. I found Hueseman’s article on nature vs technology very complimentary to our readings this week. Like the question asks, why should institutions of power be afraid of technology, it is the power in which technology holds for creativity and change. Your discussion on the advancements on technology after the war really pinpoints on humans’ ability to create without hesitation of the impacts on such possibilities of damage. It is the fact that we are so focused on the now and the how, that we forget that we also rely on what has been given to us, which we rely on heavily (nature).


  2. I think its interesting how technology is becoming such a constant in our lives that we are coming onto a new age where ideologies are shifting so dramatically. Like when Christianity became popular, the rise of technology and its practical, impractical, and even ludicrous uses have spread like wildfire over the past couple generations. In terms of our advancement, many of the simple appliances of technology have had too much attention over the years, and we should invest in more permanent solutions that catapults our civilization into the future. But over all I agree with your thoughts in the discussion, especially with your Covid-19 reasoning. The idea with how humans are constantly in competition with nature is also interesting because its honestly true! Ever since the dawn of human history, our species has over come many difficult trials of nature.


  3. While I agree with your points in the second paragraph, I do have a little bit to add. Science and Human Progress go hand and hand and if scientists aren’t constantly pushing for new frontiers then the human progress doesn’t advance. Technology can and has done a ton for humankind but there are many issues that it can not fix. One current example could be the increased racial tension due to police brutality in our country. This is a social issue and technology cannot fix that. There are many aspects of nature that either can’t be changed or should not be changed that why it is so important to have men like Priestly who are experts in science but also social issues like politics.


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