From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Philosophy (Rated Stub-class)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Philosophy, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of content related to philosophy on Wikipedia. If you would like to support the project, please visit the project page, where you can get more details on how you can help, and where you can join the general discussion about philosophy content on Wikipedia.
Stub-Class article Stub  This article has been rated as Stub-Class on the project's quality scale.
 ???  This article has not yet received a rating on the project's importance scale.

Between optimism and pessimism[edit]

Is there a word for being between optimism and pessimism, in that one is basically "agnostic," i.e. unsure, as to whether or not things will turn out for the good? Tisane talk/stalk 09:43, 17 June 2010 (UTC)

Realism? Lova Falk talk 16:18, 17 June 2010 (UTC)
I thought about that, but it implies that one actually has an accurate view of what the reality is. I.e., either optimism or pessimism could also be realism; for instance, if your boss is about to give you a promotion at work, and you are optimistic about your chances of getting it, then your optimism is realism. On the other hand, if you think you're about to lose your job, and in fact you are about to lose your job, then your pessimism is realism. If you simply say, "I don't feel I have enough facts to accurately judge what's going to happen," and in fact you do have enough facts, then arguably you're not being much of a realist, because presumably a realist makes accurate judgments, even about his own ability to make judgments (i.e. if there's reason for optimism about his chances of correctly choosing whether an optimistic or pessimistic outlook is warranted, then if he's to to be a realist, he should be optimistic about said chances of correctly choosing.)
But who is to assess whether another person's judgment on anything is realistic? I can say, "I'm a realist," but others might say, "No you're not; you were overly optimistic about w and x, and overly pessimistic about y and z." On the other hand, if you say, "I'm an optimist," that is more clear-cut because that is determined by your subjective views; if you say, "The Great Recession is going to lift this year, this new widget is going to be better than the old one, and my kids are going to get straight A's this semester," you are being undeniably optimistic; whether or not you were being a realist can only be determined in hindsight.
It's complicated somewhat by the fact that words like "optimism" and "pessimism" have a dual meaning; one can use them to describe hopefulness or despair about the future, or to describe whether one focuses on the good or the bad, given a set of known favorable and unfavorable facts. E.g., given a garden with some weeds, the optimist might focus on the flowers while the pessimist focuses on the weeds. It's the same garden, either way; they just apply their attention to different aspects of it. Tisane talk/stalk 17:11, 17 June 2010 (UTC)
Interesting questions. I have no answers. Maybe you can only know in retrospect if you have been an optimist or a pessimist?... Lova Falk talk 19:05, 17 June 2010 (UTC)
And sometimes you may not have an opportunity to look at it in retrospect. E.g., suppose you say, "I think that humanity is destined for peace and prosperity in the 23rd century." You will never know whether such optimism was realistic or not, unless you are cryogenically frozen and woken up later. Tisane talk/stalk 20:51, 17 June 2010 (UTC)
Just one of the infinite amount of questions that we cannot answer... Anyway I still think realistic is the correct word for being between optimistic and pessimistic, even though you can't always know if things will turn out the way you will think. And sometimes that doesn't even matter. For instance, you can have a realistic expectation of the wheather during a holiday (based on statistics, taking a certain insecurity into account), and still be surprised because it was unusually warm, cold or rainy. That doesn't mean your expectations were not realistic. Lova Falk talk 06:21, 18 June 2010 (UTC)