Extropian Optimism

David D. (mars@bga.com)
Sat, 16 Nov 1996 01:13:13 -0800

I think I'm having a definition problem here. Perhaps a few of the more
optimistic out there can enlighten me.

My dictionary describes optimism as - Leibniz's doctrine that the world
is the best of all possible worlds: a belief that everything is ordered
for the best: a disposition to take a bright, hopeful view of things:

The first definition can't be extropian. Why, then, all the posts about
improving the human condition?

My perception of the shared extropian belief system (BS) is that there is
an optimism about the future. Not necessarily optimism about the present.
Guatemala? Bosnia? Zaire? Liberia? China? Russia? Urban America? Mexico?
Myanamar? Tibet? Taiwan? Chechnya? Korea? Perhaps this is all part of the
order that leads to the Best of All Possible Worlds.

The 3rd definition I embrace as a remarkably effective psychological
tool. When I notice paranoia creeping in I flip it to metanoia to see
what it looks like.(It's a conspiracy, man. I tell you these guys are out
to _help_ me!)
But it is one of many tools and dispositions.

IMO, we all have hopes that we cherish. Even confidence that we will all
one day see a better world for ourselves, our friends, our families, our
loved ones. Expectations that we will one day challenge and conquer
Unreasoning Death.

But, it's still nothing more than hope.

So, my questions are; What is your defintion of optimism? What role does
optimism play in Extropian Philoshphy? Is there such a thing as too much
optimism? What about when optimism turns into blind faith, or
unreasonable hopes? If this were a *game* and optimism was an attribute,
how would you value it against other attributes? Would it be more
valuable or less than diplomacy, charisma, strength or Machivellian

Response to the Dynamic Optimism thread

J. D. wrote:
> I am even optimistic that Extropians and Libertarians will
> eventually see that the anti-conspiracy meme is a powerful pro-state meme and stop clinging to it!
> Now that is really optimistic!

This comment reminded me of one of my favorite paranoia
theories. (Because I rewrote it in my head, dropping the 'anti'. I
probably should have mentioned that.) The government is intentionally
distracting people with diversionary tactics and misinformation. OKC, TWA
and OJ are all distractions from the stuff we should *really* be paranoid

Pynchon's third proverb for paranoids --
If they can get you asking the wrong questions they don't have to worry
about the answers.

BTW - Isn't dynamic optimism only a bone thrown to the starving dogs? It
seems to be that the dynamically optimistic are often poor and the
wealthy are never dynamically optimistic...

*They* _want_ you to be optimistic. It's all part
of their plan.


Max More wrote

WHAT?!! Do you think Bill Gates or Warren Buffett is a stagnant


Howard Hughes, Claus Von Bulow. Not that they are
necessarily 'stagnant pessimists,' though I might suggest they're more
along the lines of dynamic pragmatists. Perhaps, simply, opportunists.
They may seem more optimistic, but could that be because they're a lot
closer to being in 'the Best of All Possible Worlds' than most of us?

MM continues...

The long-term poor (i.e. not the poor who are working hard at becoming
rich)are generally either passive optimists or pessimists.

They are also either male or female. BTW, what happened to the dynamic


Chris Hind wrote
HAHAHAHA I didn't _even want_ to reply to this one because I _knew_ that
Max would handle the attack. hehe :)


Finally, thanks to the ubiquitous smiley face, I realize that Chris meant
'attack' in only the most pleasant, optimistic manner. (Why did he say
that? I bet he's out to help me.)

epilog -- (Ira Brodsky's Nyah Nyah post reprinted because it helped me
put things in perspective)

A related note (not specific to David Musick or John Clark)...

I joined this list hoping it would prove an island of enlightenment. I
don't mean a place where everyone agrees with *me* -- I mean a place
people are committed to progress and willing to thoroughly test out new
ideas. That requires beating the !#%! out of ideas without getting
personally bent out of shape.

Hey, if you can make my ideas look foolish because you have more/better
information or have attained a higher level of intellectual development,
right ahead. You are helping me. While I prefer you dispense a little
encouragement to me as you tear my pet theories to shreds, doing so is
purely optional.

Unfortunately, in the short time I have been here I have witnessed at
three incidents in which people have stormed out of debates saying "If
that's the only way you can discuss this, let's not discuss it at all!"

Yes, ad hominem arguments prove nothing. They deserve to be exposed and
dispensed with. So just do it. But truly enlightened thinkers are not
easily wounded.

Upward!, Outward!...

...And get over it already, OK?

(Thanks Ira)

To sum up-
Just what the hell is Dynamic Optimism? How does it help you? Is it
genetic or can you learn it? Did you learn it? If so, how? How would you
go about teaching someone to be dynamically optimistic?

David D.