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Allan's Philosophy Podcast

Friday, January 22, 2010

Philosophy on Facebook # 11 - Is the glass half full?

Hey back again. I read over my last post and realized 1. i spelt success wrong (embarassing lol)and 2. i dont think i truely believe in thomas edisons quote "I have not failed 1,000 times. I havesuccessfully discovered 1,000 ways to NOT make a light bulb" at the end. First of all why would you need 1000 ways not to make a lightbulb if the purpose of your experimentation was to make a light bulb. the only positive aspect of finding your failures is to learn from them and build upon them. I dont follow the way he said it in the fact that in my opinion those other 1000 ways are basically useless in your original intent to make a lightbulb. They may yield unexpected or undesired results that could end up being beneficial in the long run as many achievements and discoveries in history happened on accident. If he reworded it in a way where he said those 1000 attempts ultimately led to the invention of the lightbulb then i would have 100% agreed with his quote. This in turn led me to think about why he phrased it in that particular way and it is because of his perspective.

Thomas edison must have had a particular temperment that led him to perservere through all those supposed "failures" and continue on to make on of the most revolutionary inventions that greatly affect our lives these many years that have taken place since then. I know plenty of people who would have probably given up after try 100 or 50 or possibly even less. His perspective i can gain based on that quote was basically a glass half empty half full scenario. He had to have been optimistic and confident in himself during his experimentation or else he would have given up way before that. In a society where technology has allowed for almost instantaneous satisfaction, we as people have developed a sense of impatience when things dont go our way the first couple trys. The main difference is that our technology has fortunately experienced and will continue to experience exponential growth, allowing us to hopefully and most likely take less than 1000 trys to complete our goals. This however isnt foolproof and if youre on the forefront and a pioneer of a new area completely undiscovered then there is a chance you can never succeed your goals. An area that exemplifies this well that is very prominent nowadays is the space frontier and the possibility of terraforming the surfaces of nearby planets for human colonization. While we are still in early forms of this people as we speak are probably running simulations using trial and error or other methods to find the best way to go about solving this goal that may never yield attainable results or could provide verification that we could someday live on mars.

The way you go about solving a goal and the chance of you successfully achieving desired results is all dependant upon your own personal perspectives and viewpoints. If you are optimistic then you will more likely align yourself with thomas edisons viewpoint and think of it as building upon your mistakes to get closer and closer to accomplishing whatever you were trying to do. If you are a pessimist then you will probably feel like you have been wasting your time and accomplished nothing and therefore be less motivated to continue with your progression. Realism falls somewhere in between these points however as the radicals and extemists of optimists and pessimists can have unrealistic outlooks on the situation at hand. If you are too confident in your possible success, you can in a sense set the bar too high as well as your expectations and in no way achieve results anywhere near the level you planned for. Vice versa goes for pessimism where you can accomplish so much more but dont have faith in your abilites to take the next step. Realism in my opinion is an outlook that takes into consideration the resources, restrictions (i.e. time constraints), expected and desired results, and all other factors that play a role in achieving the final outcome. If you aim too high there is always as possibility of disappointment and if you aim to low you are stunting the growth of your own potential. As with many things, your outlook is one more thing that requires a healthy balance. Your dreams are what set the basis for what you want to accomplish and while your goals may be fantasies at the time of inception you must pepper in some realistic perspectives in order to create a recipe for success in accomplishing them.

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