The cultural environment into which we are born is surrounded by concepts that shape our lives. How these concepts are filled in shapes, in the most general terms, our worldview. Being able to reconstruct the concepts that make up our patterns of thought does not radically change the world, but the way we see it.
The idea of progress must be one of the most fundamental arguments of the modern world. This concept refers to the transition from one’s current state to a higher and better state. The idea of development is often thought of as a continuous upward movement. For the same reason, the future has generally been sought in the heavens. Today, all space-related activities continue to be recognized as an indicator of future progress and development.
R.G. Collingwood, author of The Idea of History, says that “the idea of progress is not the replacement of bad by good, but the replacement of good by better.” Replacing the bad with the good fulfills the need and does not take the next step. However, replacing the good with better and ensuring that the next step is better creates a continuity, that is, temporality. Today is better than yesterday, tomorrow will be better than today. The concept of development depends on this progress. “Thus the progression of time means getting closer to the ‘more advanced one’ prepared for us. As time moves forward, whatever the goal is (a classless society, economic prosperity, a more just life, etc.) we are considered to be getting closer to it. But we assign all these meanings to the future. How we fill in the concepts of history and time shapes how we view them. Our worldview is even constructed through these concepts.
In this view, there is no limit to the better and one is confronted with an infinite goal. What we have is never enough. Because better is always in the next moment. So today must prepare for tomorrow. What we have and the moment we live in will always be insufficient to be happy/complete/strong/good in this context. If there is no end to time, there will be no end to the ‘better’ to be achieved. It is possible to see modern man’s perfectionism and fondness for perfection as a reflection of this approach.
This concept, which has its roots in the Renaissance, tells us that today is better than yesterday and tomorrow is better than today. It is recognized that many of the technical developments that came with the Enlightenment improved not only the material but also the human and social structure. It is accepted that states that evolve in scientific and technical terms also encompass areas such as law, democracy, institutions and traditions. Here development is reduced to the principles of a single civilization. And that is the continent of Europe, the birthplace of the progressive approach. Outside of here, the rest of the world is interesting, authentic, worth watching, but not considered advanced. When the reporter, who will introduce us to the indigenous people by moving through the jungle in Australia, starts by saying that in these untouched forests far away from civilization …, he underlines, consciously or unconsciously, that civilization is one and that what is far away from it is primitive. The task of the axe that is supposed to enter the forest is to bring this complex greenery under human control and service.
Today, this approach, which has shaped the minds of modern man and played an important role in the formation of his values, is known as the progressive view of history. As a consequence of the progressive view, the future is good and hopeful, while the past is old and left behind. All readings made with these meanings we attach to the new and the old will naturally be under the control of these spectacles.
The ideal that the goal to be achieved is somewhere ahead of time, which moves forward like a straight line, and the ideal of achieving it somewhere in the future is an equation of the rational mind. But life does not proceed along these mental lines. Like nature itself, it seems complex, but it has its own order and progression. For example, the seemingly complex tree branches and leaves have a system and even a hierarchy. The patterns of our gaze almost reshape what we look at for us.
In ancient civilizations, the beginning is the creation of man and his life in paradise. The further away from this, the greater the deterioration. In ancient Greece, progressive history is seen as a decay and decay. Moving away from the beginning increases the distance between us and heaven. In this context, it is not the future that is decisive, but the past. Man is considered an extension of nature. The natural process is cyclical. While the Enlightenment view recognizes that events proceed in a cause-and-effect relationship, traditional teachings, on the contrary, advocate the idea that time continues with the progression of random events. Chance events complete a cyclical process. Here we are not talking about progress but about repetition. There is a routine to nature and, by extension, to human life. For example, all states are created, grow and fall. The caterpillar becomes a butterfly, dies, then merges with other living things from the soil and life continues in a new form. The moon will grow from its crescent to its full size, and then it will begin to shrink. Events will change within the repeated cycle, but the circularity will continue. There is a beginning with the creation of the universe, which is accepted in traditional teachings. The apocalypse, which will take place one day, is considered the end. In this way, history, which we can see as a single piece, is both cyclical in the sense that it contains countless cyclical processes in terms of the beginning and end of the lives lived in it, and cyclical in the sense that it returns to the point where it began as a single and great history with a beginning and an end. With the Resurrection, everything will return to its original point, to the point where it started. What we see small examples of in life continues to happen in macro dimensions as well.
In this approach, the concept of development has a different meaning. Development does not wait for the time to come in a single, straight line. Whoever/whatever experiences the cycle, change/development takes place in them. The wisdom gained from experience is passed on to those who come after, and like a legacy in the process of the great cycle, it continues to exist with additions over time. States collapse, but what happens is passed on to the next state as experience.
History as such is a series of cyclical movements that go on and on. Not one history but many histories, not one form of progress but many forms of progress and development. Indigenous people living in the jungle can cook their food in leaves, in keeping with their so-called primitivism. But long before the “modern world”, the same community used the extract from the willow tree for pain relief and fever-reducing properties. Since there is no concept of total development or backwardness, each community or people will have different areas of development within their own system. Since each community is unique, any comparison with another will be incomplete as a result of a single understanding of truth. The idea that progress belongs to a single civilization is not only limiting but also judgmental of the rest of the world. The goodness of one community, within the limits set, will naturally make the others deficient and bad.
Some of the concepts mentioned above also appear in the laws of thermodynamics, one of the fields of study in physics today. Thermodynamics is the name of the field of study that describes all types of energy in the world and the relationship between them, and is considered one of the cornerstones of life that explains the laws of the universe.
The second law of thermodynamics, entropy, tells us that the universe is moving from order to disorder. The order established by the big bang at the beginning of the universe is being destroyed with each passing period of time. Everything tends to deteriorate and fall apart. This process, which continues from order to chaos, is progressing. In other words, the rise of entropy in the world is considered a sign of a coming end. According to the basic principles of the law of entropy, the historical course is from order to disorder, from existence to extinction, from life to death.
Entropy is a tendency towards disorder, which is assumed to exist in all matter. Everything in the universe wants to pull itself down to minimum energy (i.e. lower energy). For example, a stone dropped from above wants to fall down. Because the point we call down has a lower energy level than the point we call up. A gas compressed in an iron container wants to expel itself. Because gases in the external environment are more irregular. The house that is built, even if it lasts for a very long time, will eventually collapse and fall apart. On the contrary, it has not become increasingly consolidated and renewed.
As time progresses, entropy increases and destruction is imminent. This applies both to individual matter, which is a form of energy, and to the universe, which is the sum of all of them. Whatever is happening at the micro level is also happening at the macro level.
Today, modern science and the traditional worldview seem to have found common ground on time. From the very first moment of its creation, the universe has been heading towards destruction, towards an end. In the same way, every creation in the universe is on its way to disintegration/death within its allotted time frame. Entropy, whether for large forms of energy or for small matter, is increasing day by day, regardless of the difference, bringing the apocalypse closer to us. In this case, the universe continues its journey with its inhabitants in a great cycle that leads it towards collapse. This world, which is doomed to die and whose destruction is accelerating every moment, has a mission. This cannot be avoided. But cyclical processes herald the rebirth of the one who will rise again from where he has sunk. Our immortal side is waiting to be discovered. It seems that one can only escape the inevitable by clinging to/leaning on one’s spiritual side.