Virtues/Simplicity

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Introduction[edit]

Simplicity is the virtue of removing the extraneous to reveal the essence. Simplicity is the direct alignment with reality and it is the opposite of false and its various manifestations including pretension, prevarication, bloviating, masquerading, exaggeration, denial, grandiloquence, falsehood, or misunderstanding.[1] Simplicity is the opposite of excess, and its various manifestations including opulence, extravagance, gaudiness, ostentatiousness, and waste. Simplicity is also the opposite of indirect, and its various manifestations including oblique, roundabout, convoluted, devious, and circuitous. Simplicity fully enjoys the magnificent essence it has revealed.

Simplicity is not simple-mindedness, nor is it simplistic. Simplicity grasps the essence that organizes what is apparently complex. It reveals an elegance that often is only understood after examining and comprehending immense complexity. Simplistic ideas are false because they take invalid short-cuts that misrepresent the complexities, subtleties, and full scope of reality.

Because we value simplicity we find humor in the Rube Goldberg machine.

“Everything is both simpler that we can imagine,” says Goethe, “and more entangled that we can conceive.”[2]

Simplicity is not about a life of poverty, but a life of purpose.[3] It is not asceticism it is authenticity.

In choosing between two plausible theories, scientists generally favor the simpler one. According to Occam's razor, all other things being equal, the simplest theory is the most likely to be true. The similar concept of parsimony is used in philosophy of science. The simpler explanation of a phenomenon is more highly valued.

The Virtue of Simplicity[edit]

Simplicity reveals what is directly without pretense or exaggeration. It is a mean between excess and deficiency. Paraphrasing Albert Einstein, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.”

Everyday Simplicity[edit]

Practice the virtue of simplicity every day in these ways:

  • Truth is simple, lies and cover-ups are complex. Speak directly, candidly, and straightforwardly.
  • Acceptance is simple (but not often easy), denial is complex. Embrace what is.
  • Think clearly, and then speak clearly. Speak less, while saying more.
  • Making excuses is complex, doing what you say you will do is simple.
  • Avoid jewelry, elaborate makeup or hairstyling, tattoos, body piercings, and pretentious fashions. Dress and groom simply.
  • Eschew obfuscation!
  • Remove the obvious, add the meaningful. [4]
  • Simplify bureaucracies to focus on adding value while reducing activity.
  • Eat food, not too much, mostly plants. [5]
  • Shed your burdens and distractions.
  • Resolve destructive emotions, and overcome addictions.
  • Clean out your closets, attic, basement, and garage.[6]
  • Value silence and sanctuary. Create silence in your life and take time to enjoy it. Lean to quiet your mind.
  • Actively listen to great music.
  • Walk more, drive less.
  • Fix it yourself rather than calling the plumber, gardener, or handyman.
  • Want what you have. Focus on what matters.
  • Align your worldview to correspond with the real world as it truly is. Adopt a global perspective.
  • Embrace who you are; explore the essence of “I am” Unmask your True Self.

You may choose to evolve toward Voluntary simplicity which is a way of living that is outwardly simple and inwardly rich. [7]

Simplicity is surprisingly difficult. You may have to progress toward many of the virtues listed earlier to prepare yourself for simplicity.

Assignment[edit]

Part 1: Examine your beliefs, speech, habits, clothing, jewelry, furnishings, and other possessions to identify any that are pretentious, ostentatious, false, extraneous, cumbersome, obsolete, or merely clutter.

Part 2: Decide how you can improve your life by removing something you are holding onto.

Part 3: Do so!

Part 4: Pledge to make “no excuses” for your behavior over the next week or month. Notice if this helps move you toward simplicity. Note, we are not suggesting a moratorium on sincere apology, instead if your habit is to arrive late to the meeting, smile awkwardly, and make up some flimsy excuse, try simply arriving on time.

References[edit]

  1. Comte-Sponville, André (2002). A Small Treatise on the Great Virtues: The Uses of Philosophy in Everyday Life. Picador. pp. 368. ISBN 978-0805045567. 
  2. Comte-Sponville, André (2002). A Small Treatise on the Great Virtues: The Uses of Philosophy in Everyday Life. Picador. pp. 368. ISBN 978-0805045567. 
  3. Elgin, Duane (2010). Voluntary Simplicity: Toward a Way of Life That Is Outwardly Simple, Inwardly Rich. Harper. pp. 240. ISBN 978-0061779268. http://www.voluntarysimplicity.org/. 
  4. Maeda, John (2006). The Laws of Simplicity (Simplicity: Design, Technology, Business, Life). The MIT Press. pp. 117. ISBN 978-0262134729. 
  5. Pollan, Michael; Maira Kalman (2011). Food Rules: An Eater's Manual. Penguin Press HC. pp. 240. ISBN 978-1594203084. 
  6. Rubin, Gretchen (2009). The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun. Harper Perennial. pp. 336. ISBN 978-0061583261. 
  7. Elgin, Duane (2010). Voluntary Simplicity: Toward a Way of Life That Is Outwardly Simple, Inwardly Rich. Harper. pp. 240. ISBN 978-0061779268. http://www.voluntarysimplicity.org/. 

Further Reading:[edit]

Students interested in learning more about simplicity may be interested in the following materials: