Hello and wow…I didn’t expect Hayek to go in the direction he goes in, in chapter three. This idea of progress is certainly fun to toy with.
Personally, I believe that this idea of progress as most people conceptualize it is imbued with the stand point which reflects a bias stemming from how the western world views time. This bias is linearity. We tend to think, “ok if we start at point A we’ll then move to point B then C” but what if there is a random portal which could trigger unknowingly and we would end up at a point of an upside down R. Why constrain the way we view the concept when there are so many ways we could hypothetically view progress: it could be circular, or maybe even three dimensional. Hayek presents that progress is more than a simple mathematical formula with one independent variable and a dependent one…no! we find it is indeed more complex. Progress is something which predictions can’t be made by plugging in numbers. Below is a cool quote where Hayek presents a way of viewing progress.
“think of progress as a process of formation and modification of the human intellect, a process of adaptation and learning in which not only the possibilities known to us but also our values and desires continually change. As progress consists in the discovery of the not yet known, and the most we can expect is to gain an understanding of forces that bring it about…Human reason can neither predict nor deliberately shape its own future. Its advances consist in finding out where it has been wrong.”
Specifically, I love the quote “Human reason can neither predict nor deliberately shape its own future” Perhaps, this could potentially occur if you had a “one man world” which we mentioned at our last meeting not only now would you have the right to do anything in this world, but you could at times be able to shape your own future because you’re the only one in it. However, we do not live in this fictional world. Our world is much more complex. In a complex world it makes sense to believe you can move forward by looking in hindsight at what you have done wrong.
I thought of an interesting metaphor for Hayek’s explanation of progress. In many ways it is similar to that of the way in which a child develops. Kids learn new knowledge during this time they find their personal values and desires change (so much is going on!). The child’s ideas don’t necessary make them develop much, rather, a lot of development is reactionary. As you learn things like “oh, the stove is hot” from your mistake of touching the stove rather than from your child reasoning of “I am going to touch the stove and life will be better.”
Well, I hope everyone has a great week and I’ll see you all Thursday!