785. What is the greatest obstacle to progress?
“Pride and selfishness. This is in terms of moral progress, as intellectual progress is constant, and at first glance, it seems to magnify those vices by developing ambition and the love of possessions and wealth. These feelings drive human beings to carry out the research that enlightens their minds, and this is how all things are linked together in the moral and physical worlds, and how good is eventually created out of iniquity. This condition is only temporary and will change as human beings become aware that there is an infinitely greater and everlasting happiness beyond the realm of earthly pleasures.” (See Selfishness, Chapter XII)
Two types of progress mutually support one another, but do not necessarily occur at the same rate: intellectual progress and moral progress. In civilized nations, the former is currently receiving a great deal of encouragement, and it has reached a degree of advancement that is incomparable to past ages. The second is very far from reaching the same point, although if we compare the social values across centuries, we are forced to admit that progress has also been made in this direction. Why has progress stalled in morality more than in intelligence? Why should there be less of a difference between the morality of the 19th and 24th centuries than between that of the 14th and the 19th? Not questioning the consistency of moral progress would be to assume either that the human race has reached the peak of perfection, which would be ridiculous, or that it is not morally perfectible, which experience contradicts.