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[ Also see Ambition Change Civilization Creation Evolution Experience Futurity Growth Improvement Reform Self-improvement Success ]

If a man is not rising upward to be an angel, depend upon it, he is sinking downward to be a devil. He cannot stop at the beast.
      - Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The wisest man may be wiser to-day than he was yesterday, and to-morrow than he is to-day. Total freedom from change would imply total freedom from error; but this is the prerogative of Omniscience alone.
      - Charles Caleb Colton

Little progress can be made by merely attempting to repress what is evil; our great hope lies in developing what is good.
      - Calvin Coolidge

The progress from infancy to boyhood is imperceptible. In that long dawn of the mind we take but little heed. The years pass by us, one by one, little distinguishable from each other. But when the intellectual sun of our life is risen, we take due note of joy and sorrow.
      - Barry Cornwall (pseudonym of Bryan Waller Procter)

Progress begins with the minority. It is completed by persuading the majority, by showing the reason and the of the step forward, and that is accomplished by appealing to the intelligence of the majority.
      - George William Curtis

We can trace back our existence almost to a point. Former time presents us with trains of thoughts gradually diminishing to nothing. But our ideas of futurity are perpetually expanding. Our desires and our hopes, even when modified by our fears, seem to grasp at immensity. This alone would be sufficient to prove the progressiveness of our nature, and that this little earth is but a point from which we start toward a perfection of being.
      - Sir Humphrey Davy

All things journey: sun and moon,
  Morning, noon, and afternoon,
    Night and all her stars;
      'Twixt the east and western bars
        Round they journey,
          Come and go!
            We go with them!
      - George Eliot (pseudonym of Mary Ann Evans Cross),
        The Spanish Gypsy (bk. III, song)

What we call "progress " is the exchange of one nuisance for another nuisance.
      - Henry Havelock Ellis,
        Impressions and Comments

All our progress is an unfolding, like the vegetable bud. You have first an instinct, then an opinion, then a knowledge, as the plant has root, bud, and fruit. Trust the instinct to the end, though you can render no reason.
      - Ralph Waldo Emerson

An original sentence, a step forward, is worth more than all the centuries.
      - Ralph Waldo Emerson

It is always hard to go beyond your public. If they are satisfied with cheap performance, you will not easily arrive at better. If they know what is good, and require it, you will aspire and burn until you achieve it. But from time to time, in history, men are born a whole age too soon.
      - Ralph Waldo Emerson

It is in the stomach of plants that development begins, and ends in the circles of the universe. 'Tis a long scale from the gorilla to the gentleman,--from the gorilla to Plato, Newton, Shakespeare,--to the sanctities of religion, the refinements of legislation, the summit of science, art, and poetry. The beginnings are slow and infirm, but it is an always accelerated march.
      - Ralph Waldo Emerson

It is wonderful how soon a piano gets into a log-hut on the frontier. You would think they found it under a pine-stump. With it comes a Latin grammar, and one of those tow-head boys has written a hymn on Sunday. Now let colleges, now let senates take heed! for here is one who, opening these fine tastes on the basis of the pioneer's iron constitution, will gather all their laurels in his strong hands.
      - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Progress is the activity of today and the assurance of tomorrow.
      - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Revolutions never go backwards.
      - Ralph Waldo Emerson

The walking of man and all animals, is a falling forward.
      - Ralph Waldo Emerson

And striving to be Man, the worm
  Mounts through all the spires of form.
      - Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mayday

With every passing hour our solar system comes forty-three thousand miles closer to globular cluster 13 in the constellation Hercules, and still there are some misfits who continue to insist that there is no such thing as progress.
      - Ransom M. Ferm

"Can any good come out of Nazareth?" This is always the question of the wiseacres and the knowing ones. But the good, the new, comes from exactly that quarter whence it is not looked for, and is always something different from what is expected. Everything new is received with contempt, for it begins in obscurity. It becomes a power unobserved.
      - Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach

In every department of life--in its business and in its pleasures, in its beliefs and in its theories, in its material developments and in its spiritual connections--we thank God that we are not like our fathers.
      - James Anthony Froude

I am suffocated and lost when I have not the bright feeling of progression.
      - Margaret Fuller (Sarah Margaret Fuller Ossoli)

I must do something to keep my thoughts fresh and growing. I dread nothing so much as falling into a rut and feeling myself becoming a fossil.
      - James Abram Garfield

It is for us to discharge the high duties that devolve on us, and carry our race onward. To be no better, no wiser, no greater than the past is to be little and foolish and bad; it is to misapply noble means, to sacrifice glorious opportunities for the performance of sublime deeds, to become cumberers of the ground.
      - William Lloyd Garrison

So long as all the increased wealth which modern progress brings, goes but to build up great fortunes, to increase luxury, and make sharper the contest between the House of Have and the House of Want, progress is not real and cannot be permanent.
      - Henry George, Progress and Poverty
         (Introductory--The Problem)

Going to work for a large company is like getting on a train. Are you going sixty miles an hour or is the train going sixty miles an hour and you're just sitting still?
      - J. Paul Getty

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