How can one design an apt program of education, lower or higher, without working from a premise of human progress, a proper idea of the aim of human development? 

Is it possible to say definitively what human beings are “meant” or “intended” or “designed” for?  Or to say so in non-sectarian and universal terms?  What does it mean to claim that someone has achieved the final stage or state of humanity, the fullest realization of human potential of which we are capable, the highest level of maturation—that toward which we all rightly tend?

Or must such “progress” be defined only within particular cultures, which differ from one another—like Athens from Sparta—in their conceptions of the proper ends of human aspiration?

I would argue for the universal notion: that all human beings are constituted to grow toward a common end, which I’ll call “wisdom,” though many other terms in many languages point to the same purpose, variously expressed, but essentially the same sagacity as demonstrated by a worldwide pantheon of enlightened sages: the Buddha, Lao-Tse, Socrates, Jesus, and Mohammed, most anciently and famously.

Suppose those five Worthies were alive again now, conferring together in our tongue and seeking to articulate their mutual understanding of human wisdom, of that state of human being they regard as supremely enlightened.  What Common Ground might they find?

—Alan Nordstrom