Simplicity

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When true simplicity is gain'd
To bow and to bend we shan't be asham'd,
To turn, turn will be our delight
'Till by turning, turning we come round right. ~ Joseph Brackett

Simplicity is the property, condition, or quality of being simple or un-combined. It often denotes beauty, purity, or clarity. Simple things are usually easier to explain and understand than complicated ones. It is also a term used to denote candor, guilelessness, innocence, straightforwardness, and freedom from duplicity.

Quotes[edit]

Alphabetized by author or source
Simplicity is the final achievement. After one has played a vast quantity of notes and more notes, it is simplicity that emerges as the crowning reward of art. ~ Frédéric Chopin
Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance. ~ Coco Chanel
The rose has told In one simplicity. That never life Relinquishes a bloom But to bestow An ancient confidence.~ Nathalia Crane
If our love were but more simple,
We should take Him at His word;
And our lives would be all sunshine
In the sweetness of the Lord. ~ Frederick William Faber
Nature has a great simplicity and, therefore, a great beauty. ~ Richard Feynman
Plurality ought never be posited without necessity. ~ William of Occam
Human subtlety...will never devise an invention more beautiful, more simple or more direct than does nature, because in her inventions nothing is lacking, and nothing is superfluous. ~ Leonardo da Vinci
  • Simplicity is the most deceitful mistress that ever betrayed man.
  • When true simplicity is gain'd
    To bow and to bend we shan't be asham'd,
    To turn, turn will be our delight
    'Till by turning, turning we come round right.
  • I was particularly won over by his sweet disposition, by his general kindness, by his simplicity, and by his friendliness.
  • Simplicity is the final achievement. After one has played a vast quantity of notes and more notes, it is simplicity that emerges as the crowning reward of art.
    • Frédéric Chopin, as quoted in If Not God, Then What? (2007) by Joshua Fost, p. 93.
  • Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance.
  • The rose has told In one simplicity.
    That never life
    Relinquishes a bloom
    But to bestow
    An ancient confidence.
  • Simplicity is prerequisite for reliability.
  • Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.
    • Attributed to Albert Einstein. Possibly paraphrased from remarks in "On the Method of Theoretical Physics", Herbert Spencer Lecture, Oxford (10 June 1933), Philosophy of Science, Vol. 1, No. 2 (April 1934), pp. 163-169, p. 165.
  • My views are near to those of Spinoza: admiration for the beauty of and belief in the logical simplicity of the order and harmony which we can grasp humbly and only imperfectly. I believe that we have to content ourselves with our imperfect knowledge and understanding and treat values and moral obligations as a purely human problem — the most important of all human problems.
    • Albert Einstein, in a letter to Murray W. Gross (26 April 1947), quoted in Einstein and Religion (1999).
  • What I'm really interested in is whether God could have made the world in a different way; that is, whether the necessity of logical simplicity leaves any freedom at all.
    • Albert Einstein, as quoted by Erner Gabor Strauss, his assistant from 1944 - 1948, as translated in The Scientific Imagination: Case Studies (1978) by Gerald Holton, p. xii.
    • Variant translation: What I am really interested in is knowing whether God could have created the world in a different way; in other words, whether the requirement of logical simplicity admits a margin of freedom.
      • As quoted in Einstein and Religion (1999) by Max Jammer, p. 124.
  • Nothing is more simple than greatness; indeed, to be simple is to be great.
  • Il semble que la perfection soit atteinte non quand il n'y a plus rien à ajouter, mais quand il n'y a plus rien à retrancher.
    • It seems that perfection is attained not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing more to remove.
    • Antoine de Saint Exupéry, L'Avion
    • Variant translations:
    • Perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away.
      • As translated by Lewis Galantière
    • Perfection is attained, not when no more can be added, but when no more can be removed.
  • Nature has a great simplicity and, therefore, a great beauty.
  • Generally nature hangs out a sign of simplicity in the face of a fool.
    • Thomas Fuller, The Holy State and the Prophane State (1642), Of Natural Fools, Maxim I.
  • Stop being so God Damn humble … You know God damn well that … that humility is defiance … simplicity today is sophisticated … simplicity is the ultimate sophistication today.
    • "Anselm", The Recognitions (1955) by William Gaddis, p. 457; "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication" was also used as an early slogan at Apple Computer in 1977 (introduction of the Apple II personal computer), and has also been attributed to Leonardo Da Vinci, but no published occurrence of such an attribution has yet been located prior to one in Wisdom Through the Ages : Book Two (2003) by Helen Granat, p. 225.
  • To me more dear, congenial to my heart,
    One native charm, than all the gloss of art.
  • The greatest truths are the simplest: and so are the greatest men.
    • J. C. and A. W. Hare, Guesses at Truth; reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 710.
  • If you wish to be like a little child, study what a little child could understand — nature; and do what a little child could do — love.
    • Charles Kingsley, in notes of August 1842, published in Charles Kingsley : His Letters and Memories of His Life (1883) edited by Frances Eliza Grenfell Kingsley, p. 65.
  • Numquam ponenda est pluralitas sine necessitate.
    • Plurality ought never be posited without necessity.
    • William of Occam, Quaestiones et decisiones in quattuor libros Sententiarum Petri Lombardi (ed. Lugd., 1495), i, dist. 27, qu. 2, K.
    • Commonly paraphrased as Occam's razor:
      • Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem.
        • Entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity.
  • If you can't reduce a difficult engineering problem to just one 8-1/2 x 11-inch sheet of paper, you will probably never understand it.
    • Ralph Brazelton Peck, as quoted in Ralph B. Peck, Educator and Engineer — The Essence of the Man (2007) by John Dunnicliff and Nancy Peck Young, p. 114.
  • Meryon succeeded in reaching the heights of his art, and achieved both splendour and simplicity through breadth of vision allied to technical skill.
  • Our life is frittered away by detail. … Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb-nail. … Simplify, simplify.
  • Human subtlety...will never devise an invention more beautiful, more simple or more direct than does nature, because in her inventions nothing is lacking, and nothing is superfluous.
  • Simplicity is a state of mind.
  • A man is simple when his chief care is the wish to be what he ought to be, that is honestly and naturally human.
  • Humanity lives and always has lived on certain elemental provisions.

Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)[edit]

Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).
  • If our love were but more simple,
    We should take Him at His word;
    And our lives would be all sunshine
    In the sweetness of the Lord.
  • "Blessed are the poor in spirit." Blessed are they who are stripped of every thing, even of their own wills, that they may no longer belong to themselves.
  • God would behold in you a simplicity which will contain so much the more of His wisdom as it contains less of your own.
  • As to our friend, I pray God to bestow upon him a simplicity that shall give him peace. Happy are they indeed who can bear their sufferings in the enjoyment of this simple peace and perfect acquiesence in the will of God.
  • True simplicity regards God alone; it has its eye fixed upon Him, and is not drawn toward self; and it is as pleased to say humble as great things. All our uneasy feelings and reflections arise from self-love, whatever appearance of piety they may assume. The lack of simplicity inflicts many wounds. Go where we will, if we remain in ourselves, we shall carry everywhere our sins and our distresses. If we would live in peace, we must lose sight of self, and rest in the infinite and unchangeable God.
  • Simplicity and purity are the two wings by which a man is lifted above all earthly things. Simplicity is in the intention — purity in the affection. Simplicity tends to God,— purity apprehends and tastes Him.
  • He sows June fields with clover, and the world
    Broadcasts with little common kindnesses.
    The plain good souls He sends us, who fulfill
    Life's homely duties in the daily path
    With cheerful heart, ambitious of no more
    Than to supply the wants of friend and kin,
    Yet serve God's higher love to human hearts;
    Giving a secret sweetness to the home,
    The hidden fragrance of a kindly heart,
    The simple beauty of a useful life,
    That never dazzles, and that never tires.
  • Simpler manners, purer lives; more self-denial; more earnest sympathy with the classes that lie below us, nothing short of that can lay the foundations of the Christianity which is to be hereafter, deep and broad.

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