Progress

The concept is fairly amusing. Suppose we measured heights in relation to our dining tables. “He is 2.5 times higher than his while she is only about 1.78 times hers.” That is how matrimonial pieces would proclaim the length of the poor souls in question. In a reasonable world (yet one without a standard unit of measurement of length) one would expect dining tables to be of varying heights. Not significantly so but taking into account aesthetics and the accuracy of carpenters it would be impossible to assume the height as a universal or even global constant. The consequences become thus crystal clear, how do you compare how tall two beings are without knowing the tables that they eat on?

Yet such relative measurements seem to proliferate our life with an unusual easiness. Take for example this piece. By the time I finish writing it, with a few syntactical corrections, I will perhaps be adequately pleased with it. My publishing it for consumption by other beings shall advocate this confidence in it more. For then it represents me and the kind of portrayal of my state of mind which I am comfortable displaying to a very judgmental if indifferent world. When I look at it at a later date, I shall probably be amused if not embarrassed by my amateurish writing. With literary pursuits I have found retrospect to be unusually cruel. It reminds you that even the metaphysical is in such a constant state of evolution. The mind can be constantly bettered and its thoughts always improved upon. Those with a penchant for optimism would claim that this acknowledgement is in itself progress. If the definition of progress is so subjective and then its generalizations so entirely without point, does it really matter?

A wholly irritating question that, What is it that really matters? More and more I look at the options that are available to me at the various junctures of life I find the answer obvious. In fact so obvious seems the solution to the problem : the quest for life, that it must be wrong. While I draft the next statement in my mind I know that this idea is a function perhaps of my youth, of inexperience, of the immaturity which is my right for being on the lesser side of the life span fraction.

Having a good time and feeling good about it is the only thing that matters.

Like all answers in philosophy, this one is so wonderfully all encompassing. It speaks to material and mental comforts, it speaks to a lack of pain and guilt (Epicurus I hear you), it speaks to the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom up to a personal extent. It speaks to doing things of utility and empathizing with others if that’s what makes you feel good. It also ventures into morality with the assumption that doing things which are without guilt(not to be confused with regret) will make you feel better and thus define right and wrong. Here the argument can be made that the acquisition of personal wealth may be what makes you feel good and that may involve stepping onto the happiness of others. Does that mean that as long as you feel good about it you go ahead?

A daunting question, it isn’t answered simply. To the most simple of men the difference between right and wrong is nearly absolute. There are things which are obviously abhorrent and those which are laudable for being far too much to the right side of the ethical equator. But to others, those who believe in situational morality, there are no absolutes. In the eyes of those, how does this question measure? As long as you feel good about something, as long as you shall continue to do so(which requires an impractical amount of foresight) is it fine? Clearly not, seems like a good answer. It is always safer to presume that the righteous thing comes with a cost, the nature of the correct action is perceived as such and shall be always sacrificial. So adjusting the prior statement about what matters becomes:

Having a good time and feeling good about it, but not at the expense of others ?

The question I look at today is not a moral one, it was to be a very materialistic one. Progress after all has been best measured in that indicator of ability, power and accumulative talent : property. But at the very start itself, declaring that the measure of growth is so subjective I did cast aside the idea that goods could ever define the metaphysical distance between the you of past and that of today. Besides being circumstantial and very individualistic, progress also seems relative to one’s life doesn’t it?

Suppose you had the luxury of looking at your future and being able to pin point the exact state of your future self. If you could calculate that maximum in terms of matter and mind that you would reach before you die. You could also then perhaps be able to see how much have you traveled till date towards that end. Heisenberg enthusiasts might argue that such knowledge would change the penultimate decision so let us delegate the task of measuring your change to an observer. Then doesn’t progress become the reduction of distance between this state and your current? Now given that the apex of your self and surroundings is unknowable to you does its pursuit really have to dominate a life which could be better spent?

If you don’t know what you want, how do you know you already don’t have it?

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