G.L.Piggy [at] gmail.com
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I often get questions about the slogan on my homepage:
“Pessimism of the Intellect, Optimism of the Will.”
Some recognize that it’s a quote from Antonio Gramsci and mistakenly think it means I’m a Marxist.
In fact, the meaning of the slogan is quite simple.
Pessimism of the Intellect means, simply, be a scientist: see the world as it really is, not as you might like it to be. Try to identify and, if necessary, overcome hidden biases or prior assumptions. Always ask yourself: What assumption am I making? What if it is incorrect? How do I know what I know?
In many cases, the correct answer is: I don’t know. Never be afraid to admit you don’t know.
Optimism of the Will means, have the courage to attempt difficult things. Sometimes, Will can overcome the odds.