Man's Quest for Social Guidance: The Study of Social Problems

By Howard W. Odum | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXXII
SOCIAL PROGRESS AND SOCIAL VALUES

The Meaning of Progress . The comprehensive study of social problems, social development, social change, and social guidance inevitably leads to the quest for an adequate concept of social progress. In earlier chapters we have shown how growth and development constitute the objectives of the good life for the individual, and we have suggested that social progress may well represent the highest good for society. Unless, however, we define the concept of progress with some definiteness, analyze its phases, and search out sure avenues of approach our statement of objectives will mean little. Few terms have been used more loosely and inaccurately than the phrase "social progress." So true this is that many students of society are averse to using the expression at all except in relative ways. Nevertheless, society and its development must inevitably be bound up with the time and relation process commonly known as progress. For the social biologist and eugenist it is evolution through the laws of organic process; for the political philosopher it is Utopia; for the religious man it is the City of the New Jerusalem; for the poet it is "that far-off divine event to which the whole creation moves"; for the sociologist it is the dynamic direction of social forces; for the individual or the family or the race or the nation it is the increasing approach to supreme achievement. Our task, therefore, in this chapter must be to look into these concepts, analyze them, isolate certain factors, and so estimate the value basis upon which progress must be made and the means whereby it may be attained. Then in our last chapter we shall relate progress and development to the important principle of social guidance and to social science as the supreme means of achievement.

Natural Divisions . In order to study the relation of progress to change on the one hand and to social welfare and guidance on the other, we shall consider the subject under five main headings, using the term "progress" for the time being, in the definite

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