On the meaning and significance of the concept of “progress”

Alexan­der L. Niki­forov
Insti­tute of Phi­los­o­phy, Russ­ian Acad­e­my of Sci­ences

On the mean­ing and sig­nif­i­cance of the con­cept of “progress”

Abstract. The arti­cle pro­vides a seman­tic analy­sis of the gen­er­al con­cept of “progress”. The author shows that the objec­tive mean­ing of this con­cept is a series of suc­ces­sive changes of a cer­tain object. Still, the mean­ing of the con-cept of “progress” also includes an assess-ment of these changes from the observer’s view­point, who can assess these changes as a tran­si­tion from low­er to high­er, from less per­fect to more per­fect, that is as pro­gres­sive changes, or on the con­trary – as a tran­si­tion from per­fect to less per­fect, that is as regres-sive changes. It seems clear that these esti-mates depend on the observers’ val­ue sys-tem, that is from their ideas about the high, the per­fect, and the use­ful. Dif­fer­ent peo­ple have dif­fer­ent val­ue sys­tems, which is why so often peo­ple dis­agree in their assess­ments of some changes as pro­gres­sive or regres­sive. The arti­cle dis­cuss­es the ques­tion of whether a cer­tain sys­tem of uni­ver­sal val­ues exists, which assumes that a gen­er­al­ly valid assess-ment of some changes as pro­gres­sive is pos­si­ble. Mod­ern soci­o­log­i­cal research demon­strates the absence of such sys­tem. The author, in his turn, sug­gests a hypoth­e­sis about what could serve as the basis for the for­ma­tion of such a uni­ver­sal human val­ue sys­tem.

Key­words: progress, regres­sion, assess­ment, sub­ject, change, good, mean­ing, mean­ing

DOI: 10.32326/2618–9267–2021–4–2–6–16


  1. Ivin, A. (ed.), Filosofiya. Entsik­lo­pe­dich­eskiy slo­var [Phi­los­o­phy. An Ency­clo­pe­dic Dic­tio­nary]. Moscow: Gar­dari­ki Publ., 2004.
  2. Ilichev, L.F. et al (eds.), Filosof­skiy entsik­lo­pe­dich­eskiy slo­var [Philo­soph­i­cal Ency­clo­pe­dic Dic­tio­nary]. Moscow: Sovet­skaya Entsik­lo­pe­dia Publ., 1983.
  3. Laser­sohn, P. “Quan­tifi­ca­tion and per­spec­tive in rel­a­tivist seman­tics”, Philo­soph­i­cal Per­spec­tives, 2008, vol. 22, no. 1, pp. 305–337.
  4. Ozhe­gov, S.I. Slo­var russko­go yazy­ka [A Dic­tio­nary of the Russ­ian Lan­guage]. Moscow: Russkiy Yazyk Publ., 1978.
  5. Roberts, C. “Index­i­cal­i­ty: de se seman­tics and prag­mat­ics”, Ms, Ohio State Uni­ver­si­ty, 2015. Avail­able at: https://www.asc.ohio-state.edu/roberts.21/Roberts.Indexicality.pdf (accessed on March 24, 2021)

Comments are closed.