Is history progressive and directional?

Hans Despain DESPAIN at
Sun Apr 2 20:09:21 MDT 1995

Schwartz I find your "progressive" theory completely unconvincing.  I
just wanted to suggest that it seems to me that a progressive theory
of history requires also a progressive ethic.  Which in turn requires
a progressive empathy and perhaps epistemology.  None of which I can
see have any reason for being progressive.  However, it also seems
that you said that human emancipation implies and requires a
progressive history.  In this sense I agree, but like Chodos seem to
think you are impling much more then this.

It is one thing to say that historical we can assert that
consciousness and self-determination, i.e., human emancipation has
been progressive, quite another that somehow this means that it is
and will always be progressive in some telelogical (even pushed
not pulled) way. Progressively reproduced ethics along with
epistemology are very difficult individual and institutional work and
effort, why must they be progressive?  If it is so our effort for a
more humanistic society will be achieved regardless of that effort,
my LDS friends (Mormons) tell be the same thing (though even more
optistically), I hope all of you to be right, but I fear your not.

Hans Despain
University of Utah
despain at

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