What’s up with this blog lately?

As Tim Peach was kind enough to point out in the comments earlier this month, things have been quiet here for quite some time. Some of you have inquired personally to see whether I am quitting, whether I am dying of an incurable disease, etc. Some have even been kind enough to tell me that they miss the blog, or that they have something they want to contribute.

This unplanned “Christmas break” was longer than I would have liked, but it has presented me with a good opportunity to reevaluate the time I spent here during roughly ten months of continuously active posting in 2007. Read the rest of this entry »

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Reason and Progress

Sometime before Christmas, I quoted extensively from Les Misérables by Victor Hugo and suggested there was one idea about which Hugo was “dogmatically immoderate.” That idea is the idea of Progress. By happy accident, the beginning of a new year is a pretty good time to reflect on the extent to which a belief in Progress is at all reasonable.

First, though, let’s get an idea of what a true believer Hugo was on the subject of Progress. “There is no backward flow of ideas more than of rivers,” Hugo proclaimed, and indeed he portrayed the forward march of moral and intellectual progress almost as a natural phenomenon: Read the rest of this entry »