Last modified on 14 August 2014, at 17:47


Humanity, in the aggregate, is progressing, and philanthropy looks forward hopefully. ~ Hosea Ballou

Progress is the idea of situations become increasingly better with time, especially in terms of science, technology, liberty, democracy, justice and general quality of life.


The condition of all progress is experience. We go wrong a thousand times before we find the right path. We struggle, and grope, and hurt ourselves until we learn the use of things, and this is true of things spiritual as well as of material things. ~ Felix Adler
  • The condition of all progress is experience. We go wrong a thousand times before we find the right path. We struggle, and grope, and hurt ourselves until we learn the use of things, and this is true of things spiritual as well as of material things. Pain is unavoidable, but it acquires a new and higher meaning when we perceive that it is the price humanity must pay for an invaluable good.
    • Felix Adler, Life and Destiny (1913), Section 8: Suffering and Consolation
  • Science discovers, genius invents, industry applies, and man adapts himself to, or is molded by, new things
    • Slogan of Chicago World's Fair "A Century of Progress" of 1933.
  • Humanity, in the aggregate, is progressing, and philanthropy looks forward hopefully.
    • Hosea Ballou, as quoted in Edge-Tools of Speech (1886) by Maturin M. Ballou, p. 397.
  • What is art
    But life upon the larger scale, the higher,
    When, graduating up in a spiral line
    Of still expanding and ascending gyres,
    It pushed toward the intense significance
    Of all things, hungry for the Infinite?
    Art's life — and where we live, we suffer and toil.
  • the ambiguity of progress becomes evident. Without doubt, it offers new possibilities for good, but it also opens up appalling possibilities for evil—possibilities that formerly did not exist. We have all witnessed the way in which progress, in the wrong hands, can become and has indeed become a terrifying progress in evil. If technical progress is not matched by corresponding progress in man's ethical formation, in man's inner growth (cf. Eph 3:16; 2 Cor 4:16), then it is not progress at all, but a threat for man and for the world.
  • Progress is only possible by passing from a state of undifferentiated wholeness to differentiation of parts.
  • By the disposition of a stupendous wisdom, moulding together the great mysterious incorporation of the human race, the whole, at one time, is never old, or middle-aged, or young; but, in a condition of unchangeable constancy, moves on through the varied tenor of perpetual decay, fall, renovation, and progression.
  • A fresh mind keeps the body fresh. Take in the ideas of the day, drain off those of yesterday. As to the morrow, time enough to consider it when it becomes to-day.
  • We are either progressing or retrograding all the while; there is no such thing as remaining stationary in this life.
  • The wisest man may be wiser to-day than he was yesterday, and to-morrow than he is to-day. Total freedom from change would imply total freedom from error; but this is the prerogative of Omniscience alone. The world, however, are very censorious, and will hardly give a rnan credit for simplicity and singleness of heart, who is not only in the habit of changing his opinions, but also of bettering his fortunes by every change.
  • We can trace back our existence almost to a point. Former time presents us with trains of thoughts gradually diminishing to nothing. But our ideas of futurity are perpetually expanding. Our desires and our hopes, even when modified by our fears, seem to grasp at immensity. This alone would be sufficient to prove the progressiveness of our nature, and that this little earth is but a point from which we start toward a perfection of being.
    • Humphry Davy, as quoted in Memoirs of the Life of Sir Humphry Davy (1836) by John Davy, p. 130.
  • "Can any good come out of Nazareth?" This is always the question of the wiseacres and the knowing ones. But the good, the new, comes from exactly that quarter whence it is not looked for, and is always something different from what is expected. Everything new is received with contempt, for it begins in obscurity. It becomes a power unobserved.
    • Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach, as quoted in "Voices of the New Time" as translated by C. C. Shackford in The Radical Vol. 7 (1870), p. 329.
  • Human improvement is from within outwards.
  • I must do something to keep my thoughts fresh and growing. I dread nothing so much as falling into a rut and feeling myself becoming a fossil.
    • James A. Garfield, as quoted in Garfield's Words : Suggestive Passages from the Public and Private Writings of James Abram Garfield (1882) edited by William Ralston Balch
  • Look up and not down, look forward and not back, look out and not in, and lend a hand!
  • Just as the works of Apelles and Sophocles, if Raphael and Shakespeare had known them, should not have appeared to them as mere preliminary exercises for their own work, but rather as a kindred force of the spirit, so, too reason cannot find in its own earlier forms mere useful preliminary exercises for itself. And if Virgil did consider Homer such a preliminary exercise for himself and his refined age, his work has therefore remained a post-liminary exercise [Nachübung].
    • Hegel, Difference of the Fichtean and Schellingean System of Philosophy, in W. Kaufmann, Hegel (1966), p. 49
  • There's only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that's your own self.
  • Let us labor for that larger and larger comprehension of truth, that more and more thorough repudiation of error, which shall make the history of mankind a series of ascending developments.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical QuotationsEdit

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 634-36.
  • Westward the star of empire takes its way.
    • John Quincy Adams, Oration at Plymouth (1802). Misquoted from Berkeley on inside cover of an early edition of Bancroft's History of United States.
  • Laws and institutions are constantly tending to gravitate. Like clocks, they must be occasionally cleansed, and wound up, and set to true time.
  • Westward the course of empire takes its way;
    The four first Acts already past,
    A fifth shall close the Drama with the day;
    Time's noblest offspring is the last.
    • Bishop Berkeley, Verses, on the Prospect of Planting Arts and Learning in America.
  • Finds progress, man's distinctive mark alone,
    Not God's, and not the beast's;
    God is, they are,
    Man partly is, and wholly hopes to be.
  • Progress is
    The law of life, man is not
    Man as yet.
  • Like plants in mines, which never saw the sun,
    But dream of him, and guess where he may be,
    And do their best to climb, and get to him.
  • All things journey: sun and moon,
    Morning, noon, and afternoon,
    Night and all her stars;
    Twixt the east and western bars
    Round they journey,
    Come and go!
    We go with them!
  • And striving to be Man, the worm
    Mounts through all the spires of form.
  • So long as all the increased wealth which modern progress brings, goes but to build up great fortunes, to increase luxury, and make sharper the contest between the House of Have and the House of Want, progress is not real and cannot be permanent.
    • Henry George, Progress and Poverty, Introductory. The Problem.
  • Progress has not followed a straight ascending line, but a spiral with rhythms of progress and retrogression, of evolution and dissolution.
  • To look up and not down,
    To look forward and not back,
    To look out and not in—and
    To lend a hand.
    • Edward Everett Hale, Rule of the "Harry Wadsworth Club", from Ten Times One is Ten (1870), Chapter IV.
  • I have seen that Man moves over with each new generation into a bigger body, more awful, more reverent and more free than he has had before.
  • From lower to the higher next,
    Not to the top, is Nature's text;
    And embryo good, to reach full stature,
    Absorbs the evil in its nature.
  • New occasions teach new duties, time makes ancient good uncouth;
    They must upward still and onward, who would keep abreast of truth.
  • "Spiral" the memorable Lady terms
    Our mind's ascent.
    • George Meredith, The World's Advance. G. M. Trevelyan in notes to Meredith's Poetical Works says the "memorable Lady" is Mrs. Browning.
  • That in our proper motion we ascend
    Up to our native seat; descent and fall
    To us is adverse.
  • Quod sequitur, fugio; quod fugit, usque sequor.
    • What follows I flee; what flees I ever pursue.
    • Ovid, Amorum (16 BC), II. 19, 36.
  • Il est un terme de la vie au-delà duquel en rétrograde en avançant.
  • The march of intellect.
    • Robert Southey, Sir T. More, or Colloquies on the Progress and Prospects of Society, Volume II, p. 361. Quoted by Carlyle, Miscel. Essays, Volume I, p. 162. (Ed. 1888).
  • L'esprit humain fait progrès toujours, mais c'est progrès en spirale.
    • The human mind always makes progress, but it is a progress in spirals.
    • Madame de Staël.
  • If you strike a thorn or rose,
    Keep a-goin'!
    If it hails or if it snows,
    Keep a-goin'!
    'Tain't no use to sit and whine
    'Cause the fish ain't on your line;
    Bait you hook an' keep on tryin',
    Keep a-goin'!
  • When old words die out on the tongue, new melodies break forth from the heart; and where the old tracks are lost, new country is revealed with its wonders.
  • The stone that is rolling, can gather no moss.
    • Thomas Tusser, Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandry. Huswifely Admonitions. Gosson—Ephemendes of Phialo. Marston—The Faun. Syrus—Maxims. 524. Pierre volage ne queult mousse. De l'hermite qui se désepéra pour le larron que ala en paradis avant que lui. 13th Cent.
  • Qui n'a pas l'esprit de son âge,
    De son âge a tout le malheur.
    • He who has not the spirit of his age, has all the misery of it.
    • Voltaire, Lettre à Cideville.
  • Press on!—"for in the grave there is no work
    And no device"—Press on! while yet ye may!


  • Klopsch, Louis, 1852-1910 (1896). Many Thoughts of Many Minds. 

External linksEdit

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