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Monday, September 20, 2004

Half Empty, or Half Full?

Is the glass half empty, or half full?

That's easy: My half is full.

But seriously and to the point: Five minutes later the half-full guy is unhappy because his glass has run dry, while the half-empty guy has a full one because he signaled to the waiter well in advance.

The naive interpreter of the earlier moment only sees a man happy to have a half full glass and a man unsatisfied with his half full glass. A deeper inspection of the same moment, however, finds the second man is simply maximizing his happiness over a longer period while the first is, well, just short-sighted.

The question, as generally used, is ill-posed because it assumes an unmalleable universe. And as such, it is insidious, because it encourages people to treat the universe thusly.

I will always see the glass as half empty, because I enjoy the enormous potential of that. Seeing the glass as half full I think lacks creativity.

Perhaps, contrary to its intent, the question really just distinguishes consumers from producers.

(My reply to a comment in a thread of Clare*'s journal.)

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Simon Funk / simonfunk@gmail.com