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On Progress...


Civilisation (as we name it) is based on a steady progress, from one innovation to the next. Sometimes it hinders progress and sometimes it encourages it, but progress is impossible without a containing framework. Nature itself is a system of creating progressive change.

See also

action*, change*, challenge, deviation, failure, invention, opportunity, people, resistance, success, vision


‘We trained hard, but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams we would be reorganized. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.’

Petronius Arbiter

‘The people who live in the past must yield to the people who live in the future. Otherwise the world would begin to turn the other way round.’

Arnold Bennett

‘If you don't know where you're going, you'll probably end up somewhere else.’

Yogi Berra

‘We have stopped believing in progress. What progress that is!’

Jorge Luis Borges

‘All progress is based upon a universal innate desire on the part of every organism to live beyond its income.’

Samuel Butler

‘When man comes up with a better mousetrap, nature immediately comes up with a better mouse.’

James Carswell

‘Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.’

Winston Churchill

‘Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out.’

James Bryan Conant

‘I was taught that the way of progress is neither swift nor easy.’

Marie Curie

‘History shows that the human mind, fed by constant accessions of knowledge, periodically grows too large for its theoretical coverings, and bursts them asunder to appear in new habiliments, as the feeding and growing grub, at intervals, casts its too narrow skin and assumes another.’

Charles Darwin

‘There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns.’

Edward de Bono

‘When great changes occur in history, when great principles are involved, as a rule, the majority are wrong. The minority are right.’

Eugene Victor Debs

‘Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.’

Eugene Victor Debs

‘Restlessness and discontent are the necessities of progress.’

Thomas Alva Edison

‘Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.’

Albert Einstein

‘Technological progress is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal.’

Albert Einstein

‘The world moves, and ideas that were once good are not always good.’

Dwight D. Eisenhower

‘What we call “Progress” is the exchange of one nuisance for another nuisance.’

Havelock Ellis

Ideas are, in truth, forces. Infinite too, is the power of personality. A union of the two always makes history.’

Charles. W. Eliot

‘One never goes so far as when one doesn’t know where one is going.’

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

‘The reason men oppose progress is not that they hate progress, but that they love inertia.’

Elbert Hubbard

‘Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards.’

Aldous Huxley

‘Progress is a nice word. But change is its motivator and change has its enemies.’

Robert Kennedy

‘Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.’

Robert Kennedy

‘The complacent, the self-indulgent, the soft societies are about to be swept away with the debris of history.’

John Fitzgerald Kennedy

‘The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress.’

Charles F. Kettering

‘The production of too many useful things results in too many useless people.’

Karl Marx

‘Were there none who were discontented with what they have, the world would never reach anything better.’

Florence Nightingale

‘Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long.’

Ogden Nash

‘As long as men are free to ask what they must—free to say what they think—free to think what they will—freedom can never be lost and science can never regress.’

J. Robert Oppenheimer

‘The desire to understand the world and the desire to reform it are the two great engines of progress, without which human society would stand still or retrogress.’

Bertrand Russell

‘An important scientific innovation rarely makes its way by gradually winning over and converting its opponents: What does happen is that the opponents gradually die out.’

Max Planck

‘Never discourage anyone...who continually makes progress, no matter how slow.’


‘Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.

Will Rogers

Man’s "progress" is but a gradual discovery that his questions have no meaning.’

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

‘Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’

George Santayana

‘Progress is impossible without change; and those who cannot change their minds, cannot change anything.’

George Bernard Shaw

‘The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.’

George Bernard Shaw

‘All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.’

George Bernard Shaw

‘To slacken the tempo...would mean falling behind. And those who fall behind get beaten...’

Joseph Stalin

‘We are creating and using up ideas and images at a faster and faster pace.

Alvin Toffler

‘To give a fair chance to potential creativity is a matter of life and death for any society.’

Arnold Toynbee

‘Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature’s inexorable imperative.’

H. G. Wells

‘It is the business of future to be dangerous.... The major advances in civilization are processes that all but wreck the societies in which they occur.’

Alfred North Whitehead

‘Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who had read history, is man’s original virtue. It is through disobedience and rebellion that progress has been made.’

Oscar Wilde

‘Discontent is the first step in the progress of a man or a nation.’

Oscar Wilde

‘The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery.’

Harold Wilson

‘The key to realizing a dream is to focus not on success but significance - and then even the small steps and little victories along your path will take on greater meaning.’

Oprah Winfrey


‘Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.’

Frank Zappa



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