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.
- Alphabetized by author or source
- Simplicity is the most deceitful mistress that ever betrayed man.
- Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams (1907).
- Simplicity is very complicated.
- Armen Agop, quoted by Eltorie, Aida, (2009) Undercurrent, Contemporary Egyptian Art. Art Sawa. Dubai. pg. 32
- Do nothing but what is necessary. ... By this rule a man has the double pleasure of making his actions good and few into the bargain. For the greater part of what we say and do, being unnecessary, if this were but taken away, we should have both more leisure and less disturbance. And therefore before a man sets forward, he should ask himself this question, "Am I not upon the verge of something unnecessary?"
- Marcus Aurelius Antonius, Meditations, Book 4 (c. AD 121–180)
- Clancy got a very simple view of the world. Good versus evil. Evil seems to get the upper hand. Good triumphs with vastly superior automatic weapons!
- Bill Bailey, as quoted in "Spooks, Kooks, Spies and Lies" by Les Marcott in Scene4 Magazine (May 2007).
- Simplicity — the art of maximizing the amount of work not done — is essential.
- Mike Beedle, Arie van Bennekum, Alistair Cockburn, Ward Cunningham, Martin Fowler, Jim Highsmith, Andrew Hunt, Ron Jeffries, Jon Kern, Brian Marick, Robert C. Martin, Ken Schwaber, Jeff Sutherland, Dave Thomas, Principles behind the Agile Manifesto (2001).
- 'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free.
- Joseph Brackett, Simple Gifts (1848).
- 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, Simple Gifts (1848).
- I was particularly won over by his sweet disposition, by his general kindness, by his simplicity, and by his friendliness.
- Louis de Broglie, on the character of Albert Einstein, New Perspectives in Physics, p. 182.
- Less is more.
- Robert Browning, Andrea del Sarto (1855) Also utilized by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe as precept for minimalist architecture
- 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.
- Coco Chanel, interview in Harper's Bazaar (1923).
- Simplify, then add lightness
- The rose has told In one simplicity.
That never life
Relinquishes a bloom
But to bestow
An ancient confidence.
- Nathalia Crane, "Tadmore", Venus Invisible and Other Poems (1928).
- Simplicity and honest effort will replace the present corruption which stains every aspect of men’s lives today.
- Benjamin Creme, Share International magazine, (July/August 2007 )
- Simplicity is really using the minimum that you need to enjoy the fullest life. The fullest life can be lived as an art, but it needs simplicity... the more complex the life, as in, perhaps, America today, the more difficult it may be to accept the simplicity of the future. But it will be a happier time because there is great happiness to be had in simplicity.
- Benjamin Creme, The Art of Living (2006)
- Simplicity is the shortest path to a solution.
- Ward Cunningham, "The Simplest Thing that Could Possibly Work" (19 January 2004).
- Simplicity is prerequisite for reliability.
- Edsger W. Dijkstra, How do we tell truths that might hurt? (1975).
- 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.
- I am very conscious of the fact that our feelings and strivings are often contradictory and obscure and that they cannot be expressed in easy and simple formulas.
- Albert Einstein, Why Socialism? (1949)
- Nothing is more simple than greatness; indeed, to be simple is to be great.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Literary Ethics (1838).
- 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.
- Richard Feynman, The Character of Physical Law.
- Generally nature hangs out a sign of simplicity in the face of a fool.
- Thomas Fuller, The Holy State and the Profane State (1642), Of Natural Fools, Maxim I.
- Anselm: 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.
- William Gaddis, The Recognitions (1955) 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.
- In a country as hot as India, a person really requires very few essentials in order to live: one vegetarian meal a day, bread rice, vegetables and lentils, two pieces of clothing to wear, a mat, a blanket, a lota, a water container - just enough to fulfill our bodily requirements. In fact, we don't have a bathroom, shower or toilet here but have to go down to the river to wash, and for everything else we squat among the stones. Cooking takes place outside on an open fire and we sleep on the floor, tucked up on a mat in any place we can find. There is no need for shoes, for it is better to walk barefoot, nor a suitcase because it is sufficient to wrap one's clothes up in a bundle. Mother India is a great teacher of simplicity.
- Gaura Devi (2001). Fire of Transformation. My life with Babaji. P. 74
- To me more dear, congenial to my heart,
One native charm, than all the gloss of art.
- Oliver Goldsmith, The Deserted Village (1770), line 253.
- All religions are incorporated in the principle of Truth, Simplicity and Love.
- Haidakhan Babaji, The Teachings of Babaji, 25 December 1981.
- Keep it simple, stupid.
- Kelly Johnson, KISS principle reported in Ben R. Rich, Clarence Leonard (Kelly) Johnson 1910—1990: A Biographical Memoir (1995), National Academy of Sciences.
- 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.
- Christianity does not proceed from the simple in order then to become interesting, witty, profound, a poet, a philosopher, etc. No it is just the opposite: here one begins and then becomes more and more simple, arrives at the simple.
- The Point of View On My Work As An Author by Soren Kierkegaard (finished 1848) published by Peter Christian Kierkegaard 1859 translated by Howard and Edna Hong 1998 Princeton University Press P. 7
- 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.
- To gain freedom is to gain simplicity.
- Joan Miró, Joan Miró Foundation[specific citation needed]
- 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.
- Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem.
- I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.
- Blaise Pascal in Provincial Letters: Letter XVI; similar statements have been attributed to Mark Twain, T.S. Eliot, Cicero, and others besides.
- 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.
- Fools ignore complexity. Pragmatists suffer it. Some can avoid it. Geniuses remove it.
- Alan Perlis, Epigrams in Programming.
- Beauty of style and harmony and grace and good rhythm depend on simplicity—I mean the true simplicity of a rightly and nobly ordered mind and character, not that other simplicity which is only a euphemism for folly.
- Plato, The Republic, Book 3
- If we study the history of science we see happen two inverse phenomena, so to speak. Sometimes simplicity hides under complex appearances; sometimes it is the simplicity which is apparent, and which disguises extremely complicated realities.
...What is more complicated than the confused movements of the planets? What simpler than Newton's law?
...In the kinetic theory of gases, one deals with molecules moving with great velocities, whose paths, altered by incessant collisions, have the most capricious forms... The observable result is Mariotte's simple law. ...The law of great numbers has reestablished simplicity in the average.
...No doubt, if our means of investigation should become more and more penetrating, we should discover the simple under the complex, then the complex under the simple, then again the simple under the complex, and so on, without our being able to foresee what will be the last term. We must stop somewhere, and that science may be possible, we must stop when we have found simplicity. This is the only ground on which we can rear the edifice of our generalizations.
- Henri Poincaré, Science and Hypothesis (1901) Tr. George Bruce Halstead (1905) Ch. IX: Hypotheses in Physics, pp.105-106.
- Meryon succeeded in reaching the heights of his art, and achieved both splendour and simplicity through breadth of vision allied to technical skill.
- Claude Roger-Marx, Graphic Art : The 19th Century (1962), p. 86.
- Kirk: The more complex the mind, the greater the need for the simplicity of play.
- Theodore Sturgeon, "Shore Leave", Star Trek: The Original Series, December 29, 1966.
- I do not dispute that arguments should be simplified to their maximum... but people often confuse complex ideas that cannot be simplified into a media-friendly statement as symptomatic of a confused mind. ...MBAs tend to blow up in financial markets, as they are trained to simplify... beyond... requirement. (...I am myself the unhappy holder of the degree.)
- Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets (2001) Two: A Bizarre Accounting Method | George Will is No Solon: On Counterintuitive Truths | Humiliated in Debates
- [S]implicity is not so simple to attain.
- Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder (2012) Prologue, p. 11.
- 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.
- Henry David Thoreau, Walden (1854), Ch. 2 : Where I Lived, and What I Lived For.
- 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, The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci.
- Simplicity is a state of mind.
- Charles Wagner, Simple Life (1895), Chapter II.
- A man is simple when his chief care is the wish to be what he ought to be, that is honestly and naturally human.
- Charles Wagner, Simple Life (1895), Chapter II.
- Humanity lives and always has lived on certain elemental provisions.
- Charles Wagner, Simple Life (1895), Chapter III.
- Simplicity is part of what I mean by beauty, but it is a simplicity of ideas, not simplicity of a mechanical sort that can be measured by counting equations or symbols.
- Steven Weinberg, Dreams of a Final Theory. Vintage Books. 1994. p. 134. ISBN 978-0-679-74408-5. (1st edition, 1992)
Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)
- 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.
- Frederick William Faber, p. 545.
- "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.
- François Fénelon, p. 544.
- God would behold in you a simplicity which will contain so much the more of His wisdom as it contains less of your own.
- François Fénelon, p. 544.
- 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.
- François Fénelon, p. 545.
- 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.
- Madame Guyon, p. 544.
- 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.
- Thomas à Kempis, p. 545.
- 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.
- Samuel Longfellow, p. 544.
- 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.
- Frederick William Robertson, p. 545.
- Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry
- Extensive bibliography for simplicity in the philosophy of science
- Franciscan rules of simplicity
- Complexity vs. Simplicity
- Beyond Simplicity: Tough Issues For A New Era by Albert J. Fritsch, SJ, PhD
- "On Simple Theories Of A Complex World" by W. V. O. Quine
Altruism • Asceticism • Beneficence • Benevolence • Bravery • Carefulness • Charity • Cheerfulness • Cleanliness • Common sense • Compassion • Constancy • Courage • Dignity • Diligence • Discretion • Earnestness • Faith • Fidelity • Forethought • Forgiveness • Friendship • Frugality • Gentleness • Goodness • Grace • Gratitude • Holiness • Honesty • Honor • Hope • Hospitality • Humanity • Humility • Integrity • Intelligence • Justice • Kindness • Love • Loyalty • Mercy • Moderation • Modesty • Optimism • Patience • Philanthropy • Piety • Prudence • Punctuality • Poverty • Purity • Self-control • Simplicity • Sincerity • Sobriety • Sympathy • Temperance • Tolerance
Aggression • Anger • Apathy • Arrogance • Bigotry • Contempt • Cowardice • Cruelty • Dishonesty • Drunkenness • Egotism • Envy • Evil speaking • Gluttony • Greed • Hatred • Hypocrisy • Idleness • Ignorance • Impatience • Impenitence • Ingratitude • Inhumanity • Intemperance • Jealousy • Laziness • Lust • Malice • Neglect • Obstinacy • Philistinism • Prejudice • Pretension • Pride • Recklessness • Self-righteousness • Selfishness • Superficiality • Tryphé • Unkindness • Usury • Vanity • Worldliness