When I think, study, learn, or even act (or try to), I do so under the pre-supposition that the past - the classical - is better than the modern. In the simplest of explanations, I would argue that modernity is embodied by decadence and stupidity. Of course, this doesn't apply to all, but for the most part, the world in which we move on a daily basis is intellectually becoming worse and worse. Personally, I take it as valuable every time an old man says "Damn kids and their music..." or "back in my day..." as if their 'day' was a better time - and it was.
Here is an excerpt from an essay by the great scholar Harry Neumann:
"Moral relativism (...) is a modern phenomenon alien to classical thought. Classical philosophers, or even sophists were not generally moral relativists, for they were convinced that absolute values existed by nature and that reason could apprehend them. This lack of moral relativism is perhaps the greatest difference between modern and ancient thought. For the ancient philosophers or scientists (except the sceptics), the existence of an objectively knowable, absolute good was not doubtful. Moral relativism was rejected by Greek thinkers because their theorizing, however lofty, never lost sight of a very practical question: What is the best way for me to live or how can I be happy? All participants in Plato's dialogues regard this as the main question. It is also the central concern for both Athenians and Melians in Thucydides' famous Melian Debate. It is, indeed, a universal question which all men, consciously or unconsciously, ask themselves always. Yet, modern theorists often feel it unscientific to inform scientific speculations with this all-too-practical concern. They, therefore distinguish, implicitly or explicitly, between themselves as objective scientists and themselves as subjective mortals. For as scientists they attempt to avoid the "value-judgements" necessarily made by them as men*. Classical philosophers and scientists saw no need to avoid "value-judgements" in their science, since their differences concerned not the existence but the mode of being of being of the absolute good; its existence was, to put it in modern terms, a "fact" and not a "value" to them..."
(*Neumann has a citation here)
I find the ultimate cause for modern decadence to be moral relativism. Our attachment to material things and insistence on perpetuating the problem of boredom (which I'll get into in greater detail in another entry sometime in the future) becomes problematic with the commercialization and marketing and consumption of practical digital technology: smart-phones, mp3 players, video games in general, GPS, etc. - the list goes on, and I think we all know what I'm talking about - convenience and boredom - so I'll continue. Everything is done out of and for the sake of convenience, not a moral objectivity - whatever it would be for an individual nation. I'm not promoting any religion of any sort - I'm only promulgating the problem of moral relativism.
I'll skip some transitional yammering and get to the point: I strongly believe in the progression of science, but it becomes problematic (I should say, I has become problematic), when we make science itself devoid of value judgements, or of an objective moral aim.
Practical scientific achievements are consistently doing nothing for a 'good' of a society which society itself can be aware of. Perhaps marketeers/corporations act under the presupposition that it is best that the masses remain stupid and bored for the sake of the aristocracy - a presupposition that dates back to the days of slavery, not only in America, but all the way to ancient times as well.
If you've kept up with me thus far, you'll have perhaps noticed a problem in my presuppositions: I presuppose that it is not good to be stupid and ignorant.
I'll close: For those with the will to succeed among the aristocracy, one must let go of his presupposition that everyone is equal and worthy of intelligence. Those who will remain attached to convenience deserve their place among the masses who presuppose equality, along with moral relativism. Let us leave them to perpetuate their own problems, boredom, and illusions of the intellect. Remember: classical philosophers still acted under the presuppositions of slavery and class systems of inequality.
If one is going to act and think and study under the thought-cloud of equality (the most modern I can think of are things like p2p networks that create a model for theoretical business structures, societies, or even civilizations), one must acknowledge and understand the presuppositions behind these areas of 'progress,' as well as the consequences.
P.S.: Back to moral relativism one more time: I think that without an objective value or aim for science, the nihilism of equality will ultimately lead us to self-destruction. And I'm guilty of saying this out of a certain presupposition as well - that it is not better to perish than it is to survive. I've read some convincing arguments against such a presupposition as well... the great tragedy of existence, tragedy as a model for existence or life, life as a cycle - nothing, something, and then nothing again, etc. There are many ways we can perceive the possible future of mankind as philosophical. Or perhaps, we can see ourselves as a growing virus/cancer, with or without a mastermind? A hive-mind? This all sounds science fiction, but it comes from the same source that our great books come from as well - books like Orwell's 1984, Huxley's Brave New World, Moore's V for Vendetta and The Watchmen, Kubrik's Space Odyssey, Zamyatin's We, etc.