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A Short History of Progress

Wright, Ronald
Publisher:  Anansi, Toronto, Canada
Year Published:  2004  
Pages:  211pp   Price:  $18.95   ISBN:  0-88784-706-4
Library of Congress Number:  CB69.W75 2004   Dewey:  909
Resource Type:  Book

If the population growth, consumption of resources, and technological advances continue according to the trend of the twentieth century, at the expense of the earth, the outcome may be disastrous.

Abstract:  Although called A Short History of Progress, this book looks at the very beginning of human development and starts with the most basic metaphysical questions. Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? Wright argues that the first two questions have been satisfactorily answered by anthropology. We ultimately come from Africa and we are apes. Although brief, this book does not begin in modern times, but claims that certain things have not changed much from the ancient civilizations. It looks to the future and speculates as to whether developed countries can remain on a path of progress.

The goal of the book is to prevent history from repeating itself. According to Wright, the problems in modern society were set in motion long ago and could have been prevented. If the population growth, consumption of resources, and technological advances continue according to the trend of the twentieth century, at the expense of the earth, the outcome may be disastrous. This book describes the human experiment of how far we can advance while ignoring the consequences. It aims to deliver understanding so that the future may be shaped and controlled.

Gauguin's Questions, The Great Experiment, Fool's Paradise, Pyramid Schemes and The Rebellion of the Tools are the five chapters of A Short History of Progress. Introducing the topic with Paul Gauguin's "cosmological vertigo" and his philosophical questions about the nature of man, the subsequent chapters compare modern society to prehistoric men and the civilizations of Easter Island, Sumer, Rome, Maya, China, and Egypt. He addresses the issue of the collapse of our society, just as Rome eventually fell.

[Abstract by Mia Manns]



Table of Contents

I Gauguin's Questions
II The Great Experiment
III Fools' Paradise
IV Pyramid Schemes
V The Rebellion of the Tools
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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