John Michael Greer, author of several books about the consequences of peaking of world oil supplies, thinks progress is a consoling illusion. He does not believe there is anything about the nature of things that guarantees that this generation will be better off than the previous one, or that future generations will be better off than this one.
There is the Epicurean philosophy, which teaches you to be grateful for life’s blessings and not to wish for more than you have. Epicurus did not teach the Playboy Philosophy. He was a laborer who worked hard to support his aged parents, and who only enjoyed leisure late in life when his followers bought him a house and garden.
There is the Stoic philosophy, which doesn’t bother about happiness at all, but only acting constructively and with integrity no matter what the circumstances. A Stoic would agree with one of my mother’s favorite sayings, “Expect nothing and you’ll never be disappointed.” Stoicism provides a grim satisfaction that comes from not having expectations and from not basing happiness or self-respect on anything that someone else can take away from him.
The third philosophy, to which Greer adheres, is the Platonist philosophy, which is that our world is a a shadow of a divine order, which, when glimpsed and understood, makes everything make sense.
I am more of an Epicurean than a Stoic, and not a Platonist at all. That is not to say I deny the truth of Platonism and other religious philosophies. It is that I have not had the religious and spiritual experiences that I read about, and that people I know tell me about, and I cannot say anything one way or the other.