Is Advancement Possible?
Progress and growth has always been the underlying cause for our existence. We define progress, in terms of material growth, by the option of affording better or more cars, or to a luxurious lifestyle. We appreciate technological advancement in the field of science that we once thought was impossible to explain let alone exist. Advancement holds a very important place in history and science. However, understanding advancement is difficult because for different people and situations the meaning of progress would be relative and conditional, and thus change. For instance, an NGO worker who is fighting towards the cause of education for underprivileged would believe that spending million dollars on a scientific experiment is worthless in comparison to, spending it on the education of less privileged children in a third world country. However, for the scientist, who invests into a scientific experiment believes that he is advancing science. His choices that determine what progress means to him are relatively different from an NGO worker. This leads us to the question, how does one know whether human beings are actually capable of advancement? Aung San Suu Kyi, a Burmese politician fighting for democracy in her country, claims in her speech “Freedom from Fear”, that whole of humanity is constantly progressing towards an ultimate spiritual and material truth. Her ideas communicate a basic principle that human beings value advancement because they are different from animals, and consequently capable of rational choices. Plato’s Allegory of the Cave also sheds light upon this difference, while helping in understanding advancement. However, Thomas Hobbes argues from a different perspective, and provides an approach that seeks to question whether there really is any distinction between humans and animals that enables us to be rational and make human choices. In my essay, I choose to agree with Aung Saan Suu Kyi’s view about the society because I believe that there is a substantial difference between how humans view progress, in contrast to animals, and how even the mere knowledge of this key difference guides us towards advancement. To understand the differences between the approaches used by authors to explain reality, it is important to be familiar with each ones’ individual philosophical systems. The main differences between these authors lie in their approach towards metaphysics, epistemology and ethics. Their underlying assumption about the ultimate reality is further explained through the four basic ways of understanding metaphysics namely Dualism, Physicalism or Materialism, Idealism and Neutral Monism. All the metaphysical approaches choose to focus on the importance of matter and mind in context to reality. The neutral monists believe that there is a third element that is superior to both matter and mind which makes the ultimate reality, whereas dualists believe that the matter and mind are equally important for the understanding of reality. Idealism explains that the mind controls everything which is why it is superior in nature, whereas Materialists argue that it is in the existence of matter outside human beings that gives rise to thought processes. To understand Aung Saan Suu Kyi´s claims about progress, it is important to consider her premises in order to reflect and understand her history. Her speech was a response to the political movement in Burma, where human rights were being violated by the military government that used force to command its people. Aung San Suu Kyi is a Theravada Buddhist and her political movement is a reflection of her beliefs. In her speech, referring to the Buddhist concepts of “four a-gati, four kinds of corruption,” she attempts to explain that corruption is the root cause for impeding advancement. According to Aung san Suu Kyi corruption is caused by fear, which “destroys all sense of right and wrong . . . lies at the root of the other...
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