From 10,000 Feet: Progressive Living

A Site Overview

On one level, Progressive Living is just what it sounds like: a website that provides resources for anyone who wants to live their life in light of Progressive values.

As this statement implies, we don't think the political Right has the monopoly on good values it seems to think,or at least frequently pretends, that it has. Quite the opposite: we think that what passes for good values on the Right is usually a quilt of confusion, haphazardly stitched together, poorly grounded, and very badly outdated. At its worst, and it seems to get worse by the day, the Right has lied, promulgated fictions, downplayed or omitted crucially important information from public discourse, and advanced views that are aggressively immoral, when not actually criminal. Most of the leading organizations behind the Republican party (and to a lesser extent the Democratic party) are consistently fascist in orientation. At least one, Goldman Sachs, has been implicated in a global fascist coup d'etat against democracy itself.

What all of this means is that when it comes to values, Progressives are alone in actually putting values first, and in thinking through everything that good values imply. (There are, of course, intelligent and well-meaning conservatives — but there is no well-meaning conservative party in the US, or anywhere else in the world either. Well-meaning conservatives might give thought to evicting the extremists.)

As a reflection of this perspective, the content at PL is organized in light of an overall conception of the central role of values in any genuine civilization, and of the best way to arrive at the societal implementation of those values. In that regard, Progressive Living can be thought of as a site offering a contemporary continuation and development of the key concepts of the historical period known as the Enlightenment.

And that brings us to the second, and more fundamental level of the Progressive Living mission: offering suggestions that might help lead the world out of confusion and back to some semblance of order.

The most central Enlightenment concept of all was rationalism. You'll notice, in the diagram below, that 'Rationalism' lies at all the way to the left, securing the foundation for everything else to the right. Rationalism is actually a simple concept: it refers to the idea that logic and evidence should guide our beliefs about the nature of the world. Rationalism lies in greatest and most frequent contrast to authoritarianism, which is the idea that we should believe things simply because some "pundit" told us they're true, or because a belief can be found written in a book or scripture.

More than anything else, it is our consistent commitment to rationalism that sets Progressive Living apart from most other sites on the internet. As important as it may be, Progressivism is only the political manifestation of rationalism. The more fundamental manifestation is essentially religious in nature, although we use that term here in a somewhat special sense.

Most individuals grow up in societies in which one form of authoritarianism or another is offered as a foundation for belief. Unfortunately, this has promoted confusion and conflict. Confusion, because in the absence of evidence and logic, or in the presence of bad evidence and/or bad logic, almost anything may be believed, no matter how outlandish or absurd. And conflict, because if you believe in one scripture, and I believe in another, no conceivable basis for agreement can ever be reached. Of course, beliefs that aren't grounded in good logic and evidence are usually also wrong.

That doesn't mean, of course, that everything the religions of the world have taught us is wrong. Far from it: both chaff and wheat may be found in all of the great religions of the world. A study of world religions, with a view to identifying the wheat and to tossing the chaff, provides one important starting point for developing (for the first time) a genuinely rational religion. The tools developed by philosophers can further aid us in this process of systematic re-evaluation.

So all of the content at Progressive Living follows from a basic commitment to rationalism, and continues with use of philosophical tools to arrive at, among other things, a fully rational religion, as the diagram below is intended to suggest. And at the core of any such religion are good values, from which all subsequent judgments concerning morally legitimate economics and politics must follow.

We believe that therein lies the only real hope for the creation of a truly viable world: that is, in the development of a consensus around what constitutes genuinely good values. Ultimately, nothing else, and nothing less, can lead the world out of confusion and into a humanly and humanely good global society. So in 2013, and going forward, we'll primarily be offering a great deal more in the way of insight into how good values and (reformed) institutions can re-connect. We'll also be assessing the greatest problems that confront humanity, and offering suggestions around how they can be prioritized in light of good values, with a view to assessing what good institutions might do about them.

But Progressive Living isn't just about theoretical issues concerning politics, values and rationalism, as important as these may be. We'll also be putting up additional, more immediately useful material here, pertaining to health, money management, and more.

In order to get a quick sense of what, more concretely, may be found at Progressive Living, you can click on any of the buttons below to be directed to an overview page providing our perspective concerning that topic. (Be aware that some topics are currently much more developed than others.) From each overview page, the menu bar will then provide links to pages with greater detail (when additional detail is available).

Anyone who has grown up confused as to just what it is that they believe, or, for that matter, just how they can go about developing, for themselves, a coherent and consistent set of beliefs in the first place, will especially enjoy the content here at PL. We've tried to provide a complete set of tools that can lead to good values, which in turn can guide us through the entire range of human concerns, beginning with politics and economics, but by no means stopping there. We think the picture of a more truly human society that we'll be presenting will be genuinely inspiring.


The Editors / Progressive Living

Values play a pivotal role in human life.  Helping the individual  cultivate good values lies at the heart of rational religion It is the task of economics to determine how we can engage in the production and distribution of goods in a way that is consistent with our values Though the sciences and religion are quite different disciplines, the sciences can help us understand our nature and the nature of the universe. It falls to religion to encourage a way of life based upon the ethical insights offered by philosophy Though the sciences and religion are quite different disciplines, the sciences can help us to understand our nature and the nature of the universe Rationalism provides the foundation for all other ideas Normative medicine points the way to optimal physical health Normative psychology points the way to optimal psychological functioning Philosophy is, in part, rationalism as applied to the domains of morality and life purpose Rationalism is the belief that we ought to  arrive at all our beliefs and values in light of the best available evidence and reasoning Rationale for PL The task of community and society is to support the family It is initially in the family that the individual  seeks his or her own fulfillment and at the same time seeks to nurture the fulfillment of his or her family members The individual is the linchpin of the family, and hence of community and society The great task of education is to prepare the individual for life, and to encourage life-long learning The media are, in effect, a branch of government, and are rightly responsible to the citizen, not commerce At their best, the arts nourish the mind and cultivate enlightenment The task of the historian is to show us where we have been, so as to help us more clearly understand where we should go Politics is simply the application of values to the governance of society