What is Progress?

Air pumps and electrical machines used to send shivers down the spines of English politicians and priests. The idea that such machines could be created and used by average citizens made them feel vulnerable and less great. In order to hold onto this greatness, they needed to be able to suppress any form of progression in the sciences or engineering that could threaten their government or religion. As Johnson shares on page 181 of the book the group that despised the work that Priestly and other progressives were doing were doing it because they were afraid of the power they might someday have and they didn’t want to face any change. For those in charge the status quo was good enough and they desired to keep it that way. 

Johnson points out at the very end of the book just how the political and religious world continue to have strong feelings about progress and just what that means. He points out on page 239 just how todays politicians still disagree with each other over progress and how many of them in fact see that as a return to the way things used to be. His research particularly looks at energy and how our sources and functions of energy may change in the future. This alone draws plenty of political and religious controversy as all parties have a particular view of these issues.

132 thoughts on “What is Progress?”

  1. I think, overall, you covered the reasoning behind the fear of air pumps and the like pretty well. It would have been helpful to be a little more specific (explain the parliament angle, and the both the physical as well as social changes in power that were going on) but, nevertheless, your point is made.

    Your second paragraph is also a touch vague, who is disagreeing with whom, exactly? Do you have a specific (even if imperfect) example of this sort of thing? Do you know any of the trends regarding who tends to disagree with what? or how strong those numbers are? Say, voting differences between republicans and democrats throughout history, and how quickly ideas that started out unfavorable became favorable. It would really strengthen your argument to include ANY specific details of a situation that relates because it would help a reader better center themselves in the context of what you are trying to communicate.

  2. I like the language you use right away in your first statement. I also like your explanation for why English politicians and priests should fear electrical machines and air pumps. You definitely agree with Johnson and back up his points, however I think you can input your own views with his. If you give more of what you think and use Johnson to backup your argument, it will make it stronger and you can hear more of your own voice.

    Second, It would be nice to use some examples to strengthen your argument or statements. You make a solid case about how politicians still disagree with each other on progress, but back it up with the text with Johnson. I like Natalie’s idea of using the voting of democrats and republicans to see if there is any stipulation on how each party votes on progressive ideas. Finding any patterns with anything to support your argument will make your post super strong. Is there anything you disagree with on Johnson’s view of electrical machines and air pumps? Overall a solid post.

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