Monday, June 03, 2013

William Burrell and big idea 137 is 'Progress'

One of the virtues of the BBC iPlayer is the ability it provides for watching out of region TV shows (e.g. Programmes made for showing in BBC Scotland become available).
Last week I watched a thoroughly fascinating documentary on William Burrell and the collection he bestowed on Scotland.
Kirsty Wark is almost a guarantee of quality in the TV shows she fronts and this was certainly the case here where the programme balanced the themes of the man and what he left behind.
Burrell was not a showy philanthropist but he was great collector with a curiosity that fuelled his esoteric accumulation of artefacts. In the age of Hearst and Carnegie he showed that philanthropy was not a solely North American phenomenon.
Glasgow home of the Burrell collection

big idea 137 is 'Progress'

Progress is a value that generally has associations with the left and is based on belief's that humans can improve themselves and the society they live in.
Progress probably assumes some sort basic shared values, the fact is that people are now living longer healthier lives, more people have freedoms (like for example in the UK  choosing their religion or choosing to have no religion)  than they did 100 years ago.
How we measure progress could be problematic and in some cases their is a price to progress- for example those with a 'green' agenda would say that the exploitation of the planet  to provide us with comfortable air conditioned offices is causing the ice caps to melt.
Progress does not always proceed linearly and conditions can cause temporary reversions.
Here's  Ronald Wright  who has written 'A Short History of Progress' answering questions on the topic on TV.

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