Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Simplicity and Complexity

The full title of Duane Elgin's book (see my posts of 9/24/08 & 9/26/08) is Voluntary Simplicity: Toward a Way of Life That Is Outwardly Simple, Inwardly Rich. He might have even said 'Inwardly Complex'. Simplifying our outer lives makes room for a richer, more complex interior life. Having less stuff enables us to take in the complexity of life. Here simplicity makes room for complexity. (The reverse is true as well. The more complex our lives are, the less room there is to appreciate the complexities of the world. It is easy with too much stuff to get overwhelmed and, in reaction, oversimplify our view of the world.)

In my post of 7/16/08 on Complexity Theory, I mentioned that "Complexity theorists talk about how complex systems emerge from simple systems..." Indeed, anything that we create will have to be simple, not because the world is simple, but because complex systems are built from simple systems. Here simplicity creates complexity.

Like order and chaos, simplicity and complexity are involved in a dance together. We need simplicity in order to appreciate complexity. We need simple systems to build complex systems. I would say that simplicity and complexity complement each other.

Quote of the day: "Everything is simpler than you think and at the same time more complex than you imagine." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Word (or phrase) of the day: Pattern Language
Hero(es) of the day: Buckminster Fuller

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