I feel like people are confusing things here. The argument isn't that art and music are progressing at a greater rate, it's that there are both awesome and terrible things out there now, like there have always been. I see progress here as referring to development and change, not saying that it's somehow inherently better than everything that's come before.
Exactly as Kestra
, you insult my literacy, and yet completely failed to understand my argument. Why are you being so obtuse? I was using the phrase 'near-exponential' as a non-literal qualifier to argue that science is progressing at a remarkable rate. Apologies, as I did not realize this would cause you so much confusion. The claim that we are more literate than we have ever been is not dubious, unless you can demonstrate a point in history when a greater percentage of the world's population could read. Can you do so?
I asked for objective measures of the claimed devolution of society. In asking I was hoping to specifically demonstrate that by using the entirely subjective (art and music) as evidence, your stance is unsupportable. I never claimed that art and music were improving in some objective quality, only that, as Kestra
noted, there has always been good and bad, and that it is a very near-sighted and silly position indeed to pronounce the decline of civilization based on one's own distaste towards new music. This position also belies a huge amount of egotism, as you must presume to have knowledge of all the art and music out there, and further presume that you're own opinion of it is more valid than other people's.
Again, we are more scientifically advanced than ever before, and our science and technology are inarguably progressing. We are more literate than ever before. You have admitted that the quality of art and music is subjective and so cannot be used as objective evidence to support your position. So, do you have objective evidence of the decline of culture? And can you possibly provide it without being rude?
No, progress does not mean development and change, it means movement toward a goal. No, I did not say the existence of universal literacy was dubious, I said its relevance is dubious. No, I did not admit quality is subjective, and in fact I implicitly offered (as horation83
noted above) the definition of something that stands the test of time. No, objective does not mean perfect, nor does it even mean quantitative, much less easy to apply.
Yes, asking for objective measures when you do not believe in any objectivity at all is an obvious rhetorical ploy (and an insulting one at that.) Yes, talking about progress and awesomeness and such is claiming that it is better, which directly contradicts the alleged argument (and is kind of insulting to think no one notice.) Yes, the insistence that age is an automatic disqualifier for comprehending the good stuff out there is insulting. Yes, it is entirely possible for a society to convince itself that its culture is just dandy when it has objectively declined.
And that's why I noted that was the interesting question as to how someone inside the cultural bubble could notice that the bubble was shrinking when everyone around them says differently. There a lot of people who believe what people tell them before their lying eyes, especially when they think it's all subjective, except for old people whose subjectivity doesn't count.