a mother, father, and children picnicing on a green hill, kids playing with a robot; futuristic city in the background with tall towers rising to a central peak, flying cars in the distance

The Techno-Humanist Manifesto

A new philosophy of progress for the 21st century

The Techno-Humanist Manifesto, by Roots of Progress founder and president Jason Crawford, is a book laying out a new philosophy of progress.

“Techno-humanism” is his name for that philosophy, a worldview founded on humanism and agency. It is the view that science, technology, and industry are good—not in themselves, but because they ultimately promote human well-being and flourishing. In short, it is the view that material progress leads to human progress.

The purpose of the book is to present a moral defense of material progress, and a framework the progress movement can use to understand what we are doing and why. It will present a bold, ambitious vision of a future that we want to live in and will be inspired to build. It will acknowledge, even embrace, the problems of progress, and point towards solutions. And it will show how progress can become not only a practical but a moral ideal—giving us a goal to strive for, a heroic archetype to emulate, and a responsibility to live up to.

This book is first and foremost for the scientists, engineers, and founders who create material progress and who are seeking to understand the moral meaning of their work. It is also for intellectuals, storytellers, and policy makers, to inform and inspire their thinking and writing. More broadly, it is for everyone in the progress movement, and for anyone who is curious to learn what we are about.

The first draft of the book will be serialized on Jason's blog and on Substack, one essay at a time. The series will also be syndicated on Freethink Media, as part of their new Freethink Voices feature. Freethink’s purpose is “to cover the progress we’re making on new frontiers” and “to tell stories about a future that is possible so we can inspire others to make it real,” and to do so in a way that is “curious, thoughtful, open, and constructive.” We're honored that Jason is their first Voice.

Table of Contents

Introduction

The Present Crisis

  • July 9: The conflict in our society today over progress, and why we need a new philosophy of progress to resolve it. Techno-humanism as the belief that progress is good because it supports human welfare and agency

Part 1: The Value of Progress

Chapter 1: Fish in Water

  • July 16: How we take progress for granted, and why instead we should look at industrial civilization with awe, wonder, and gratitude

Chapter 2: The Surrender of the Gods

  • July 23: The story of progress as a story of the expansion of human agency
  • July 30: Why we should seek mastery over nature

Chapter 3: The Glory of Man

  • August 6: Why we should have reverence for human beings and their creations

Chapter 4: The Life Well-Lived

  • August 13: Human well-being as a life of goal-pursuit and value-achievement (and not as mere mood; the resolution of the “hedonic treadmill” paradox)
  • August 20: How spiritual values form a part of well-being—and how material progress supports them

Chapter 5: Solutionism

  • August 27: Active solutionism vs. complacent optimism or defeatist pessimism
  • September 3: Safety as an achievement of progress, and the invisible technical work that supports safety
  • September 10: How to solve climate change with progress (instead of degrowth)

Part 2: The Future of Progress

Chapter 6: The Flywheel

  • September 17: The long-term pattern of acceleration, and the feedback loops that drive it
  • September 24: The fourth age of humanity—after hunting, agriculture, and industry

Chapter 7: The Problem-Solving Animal

  • October 1: Why progress is not limited by “natural” resources
  • October 8: Why progress is not limited by “ideas getting harder to find”
  • October 15: Problem-solving as a deep part of human nature; why pessimism sounds smart even though it’s wrong

Chapter 8: The Unlimited Horizon

  • October 22: A bold, ambitious vision for the future: mastery over all aspects of nature
  • October 29: Progress as a dynamic ideal, not a static one

Part 3: A Culture of Progress

Chapter 9: What We Lost

  • November 5: The culture of progress we once had
  • November 12: How we lost our optimism in the 20th century

Chapter 10: The New Ideal

  • November 19: How progress can be a moral ideal to strive for, and how the discoverer and the creator can become new heroic archetypes to emulate

Chapter 11: What to Do

  • December 3: The progress movement we need, and the changes in society it should bring about
  • December 10: The role of education, media, and storytelling; conclusion

Subscribe & support

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