Sunday, May 10, 2009

Simplicity again

"It is my experience that it is rather more difficult to recapture directness and simplicity than to advance in the direction of ever more sophistication and complexity. Any third-rate engineer or researcher can increase complexity; but it takes a certain flair of real insight to make things simple again."

E. F. Schumacher, Small is beautiful.

See also this post.

From a scientific perspective, I like this viewpoint, and I am always trying to understand what I observe with some explanatory mechanisms based on simple principles. But I am aware that it is also dangerous to go too far in this direction, and that the simple theoretical principles are most often valid only under strong assumptions that are never satisfied in reality, so that their explanatory power is questionable and the possibility that what I observed was the result of something else must at least remain open.

From a philosophical perspective, I dislike this viewpoint, which would lead to a meaningless world where everything is deterministic and we are just complex machines without souls. I prefer the holistic philosophies of people like Ram Dass and Eckhart Tolle.

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