One of the most important skills of the economist, therefore, is that of simplification of the model. Two important methods of simplification have been developed by economists. One is the method of partial equilibrium analysis (or microeconomics), generally associated with the name of Alfred Marshall and the other is the method of aggregation (or macro-economics), associated with the name of John Maynard Keynes.
Kenneth E. Boulding
The simplification of life is one of the steps to inner peace. A persistent simplification will create an inner and outer well-being that places harmony in one's life. For me this began with a discovery of the meaninglessness of possessions beyond my actual and immediate needs. As soon as I had brought myself down to need level, I began to feel a wonderful harmony in my life between inner and outer well-being, between spiritual and material well-being.
The soul of wit may become the very body of untruth. However elegant and memorable, brevity can never, in the nature of things, do justice to all the facts of a complex situations. On such a theme one can be brief only by omission and simplification. Omission and simplification help us to understand - but help is, in many cases, to understand the wrong thing; for our comprehension may be only of the abbreviator's neatly formulated notions, not of the vast, ramifying reality from which these notions have been so arbitrarily abstracted.
There never was a sounder logical maxim of scientific procedure than Ockham's razor: Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem. That is to say; before you try a complicated hypothesis, you should make quite sure that no simplification of it will explain the facts equally well.
Charles Sanders Peirce
Perhaps there's no better act of simplification than climbing a mountain. For an afternoon, a day, or a week, it's a way of reducing a complicated life into a simple goal. All you have to do is take one step at a time, place one foot in front of the other, and refuse to turn back until you've given everything you have.
I had a new idea in my head... this time it's just simply my bedroom, only here colour is to do everything, and, giving by its simplification a grander style to things, is to be suggestive here of rest or of sleep in general. In a word, to look at the picture ought to rest the brain or rather the imagination.
Vincent Van Gogh
In mathematical science, more than in all others, it happens that truths which are at one period the most abstract, and apparently the most remote from all useful application, become in the next age the bases of profound physical inquiries, and in the succeeding one, perhaps, by proper simplification and reduction to tables, furnish their ready and daily aid to the artist and the sailor.
Family is not disparate relationships between individuals and machines, in separate rooms of a house. Childhood is not a race to accumulate all of the consumer goods and stresses of adulthood in record time. Simplification signals a change and makes room for transformation. It is a stripping away that invites clarity.
Kim John Payne
the underlying struggle - between worlds of plenty and worlds of want; between the modern and the ancient; between those who embrace our teeming, colliding, irksome diversity, while still insisting on a set of values that binds us together, and those who would seek, under whatever flag or slogan or sacred text, a certainty and simplification that justifies cruelty toward those not like us...
The Declaration of Independence is the all-time masterpiece of ideological simplification. There in a single sentence of self-evident truth, the founding Fathers put into clear, easily understandable focus, the broad basis of man's relationship to God, to government, and to his fellow man.
It's a simplification to say that the men [during Stone Age] went to war to maintain their dominance over the women. The men would help dig agricultural ditches because they were superb farmers. That was very heavy lifting work. But then they just preened themselves, and put bird-of-paradise plumes [in their hair], and smoked dope.
With simplification we can bring an infusion of inspiration to our daily lives; set a tone that honors our families' needs before the world's demands. Allow our hopes for our children to outweigh our fears. Realign our lives with our dreams for our family, and our hopes for what childhood could and should be.
Kim John Payne
Like medieval theologians we had a philosophy that explained everything to us in advance, and everything that did not fit could be readily identified as a fraud or a lie or an illusion... The perniciousness of the anti-Communist ideology of the Truman Doctrine arises not from any patent falsehood but from its distortion and simplification of reality, from its universalization and its elevation to the status of a revealed truth.
J. William Fulbright
The method of science depends on our attempts to describe the world with simple theories: theories that are complex may become untestable, even if they happen to be true. Science may be described as the art of systematic over-simplification-the art of discerning what we may with advantage omit.
Psychoanalysis provides truth in an infantile, that is, a schoolboy fashion: we learn from it, roughly and hurriedly, things that scandalize us and thereby command our attention. It sometimes happens, and such is the case here, that a simplification touching upon the truth, but cheaply, is of no more value than a lie. Once again we are shown the demon and the angel, the beast and the god locked in Manichean embrace, and once again man has been pronounced, by himself, not culpable.
... But all the feelings that evoke in us the joy or the misfortune of a real person are only produced in us through the intermediary of an image of that joy or that misfortune; the ingeniousness of the first novelist was in understanding that, in the apparatus of our emotions, since the image is the only essential element, the simplification which consists of purely and simply suppressing the factual characters is a definitive improvement.
Happiness, the goal to which we all are striving is reached by endeavoring to make the lives of others happy, and if by renouncing the luxuries of life we can lighten the burdens of others.... surely the simplification of our wants is a thing greatly to be desired! And so, if instead of supposing that we must become hermits and dwellers in caves in order to practice simplicity, we set about simplifying our affairs, each according to his own convictions and opportunity, much good will result and the simple life will at once be established.
By sort of combining the research of a lot of smart people, I came up with an equation for dread [dread=uncontrollability+unfamiliarity+imaginability+suffering+scale of destruction+unfairness]. The dread equation is a simplification, but it's a way to explain why we fear something so much when it is so unlikely. Part of it is the lack of control. That's why we're more scared of plane crashes than car crashes even though we know rationally which is more dangerous.
Although I believe identity politics '"produces limited but real empowerment for its participants," it is important to note that it contains significant problems: first, its essentialist tendency; second, its fixed _we-they_ binary position; third, its homogenization of diverse social oppression; fourth, its simplification of the complexity and paradox of being privileged and unprivileged; and fifth its ruling out of intersectional space of diverse forms of oppression in reality.
I believe [...] that we can still have a genre of scientific books suitable for and accessible alike to professionals and interested laypeople. The concepts of science, in all their richness and ambiguity, can be presented without any compromise, without any simplification counting as distortion, in language accessible to all intelligent people. [...] I hope that this book can be read with profit both in seminars for graduate students and if the movie stinks and you forgot your sleeping pills on the businessman's special to Tokyo.
Stephen Jay Gould
...Simplifications have had a much greater long-range scientific impact than individual feats of ingenuity. The opportunity for simplification is very encouraging, because in all examples that come to mind the simple and elegant systems tend to be easier and faster to design and get right, more efficient in execution, and much more reliable than the more contrived contraptions that have to be debugged into some degree of acceptability....Simplicity and elegance are unpopular because they require hard work and discipline to achieve and education to be appreciated.
There are a whole other range of sciences that must deal with the narrative reconstruction of the inordinately complex events of history that can occur but once in their detailed glory. And for those kinds of sciences, be it cosmology, or evolutionary biology, or geology, or palaeontology, the experimental methods, simplification, quantification, prediction and repetition of the experimental sciences don't always work. You have to go with the narrative, the descriptive methods of what? Of historians.
We are difficult. Human beings are difficult. We're difficult to ourselves, we're difficult to each other. And we are mysteries to ourselves, we are mysteries to each other. One encounters in any ordinary day far more real difficulty than one confronts in the most "intellectual" piece of work. Why is it believed that poetry, prose, painting, music should be less than we are? Why does music, why does poetry have to address us in simplified terms, when if such simplification were applied to a description of our own inner selves we would find it demeaning?
There are elements of intrinsic beauty in the simplification of a house built on the log cabin idea. First, there is the bare beauty of the logs themselves with their long lines and firm curves. Then there is the open charm felt of the structural features which are not hidden under plaster and ornament, but are clearly revealed, a charm felt in Japanese architecture....The quiet rhythmic monotone of the wall of logs fills one with the rustic peace of a secluded nook in the woods.
O sancta simplicitas! What strange simplification and falsification mankind lives on! One can never cease to marvel once one has acquired eyes for this marvel! How we have made everything around us bright and free and easy and simple! How we have known how to bestow on our senses a passport to everything superficial, on our thoughts a divine desire for wanton gambling and false conclusions! - how we have from the very beginning understood how to retain our ignorance so as to enjoy an almost inconceivable freedom, frivolity, impetuosity, bravery, cheerfulness of life, so as to enjoy life!
Prison life taught him how little one can get along with, and what extraordinary spiritual freedom and peace such simplification can bring. I remember again, ironically, that today more of us in the world have the luxury of choice between simplicity and complication of life. And for the most part, we, who could choose simplicity, choose complication. War, prison, survival periods, enforce a form of simplicity on us. The monk and the nun choose it of their own free will. But if one accidentally finds it, as I have for a few days, one finds also the serenity it brings.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh
The propensity to excessive simplification is indeed natural to the mind of man, since it is only by abstraction and generalisation, which necessarily imply the neglect of a multitude of particulars, that he can stretch his puny faculties so as to embrace a minute portion of the illimitable vastness of the universe. But if the propensity is natural and even inevitable, it is nevertheless fraught with peril, since it is apt to narrow and falsify our conception of any subject under investigation. To correct it partially - for to correct it wholly would require an infinite intelligence - we must endeavour to broaden our views by taking account of a wide range of facts and possibilities; and when we have done so to the utmost of our power, we must still remember that from the very nature of things our ideas fall immeasurably short of the reality.
James George Frazer
It is of course no secret to contemporary philosophers and psychologists that man himself is changing in our violent century, under the influence, of course, not only of war and revolution, but also of practically everything else that lays claim to being "modern" and "progressive." We have already cited the most striking forms of Nihilist Vitalism, whose cumulative effect has been to uproot, disintegrate, and "mobilize" the individual, to substitute for his normal stability and rootedness a senseless quest for power and movement, and to replace normal human feeling by a nervous excitability. The work of Nihilist Realism, in practice as in theory, has been parallel and complementary to that of Vitalism: a work of standardization, specialization, simplification, mechanization, dehumanization; its effect has been to "reduce" the individual to the most "Primitive" and basic level, to make him in fact the slave of his environment, the perfect workman in Lenin's worldwide "factory.
The literary experience extends impression into discourse. It flowers to thought with nouns, verbs, objects. It thinks. Film implodes discourse, it deliterates thought, it shrinks it to the compacted meaning of the preverbal impression or intuition or understanding. You receive what you see, you don't have to think it out... Fiction goes everywhere, inside, outside, it stops, it goes, its action can be mental. Nor is it time-driven. Film is time-driven, it never ruminates, it shows the outside of life, it shows behavior. It tends to the simplest moral reasoning. Films out of Hollywood are linear. The narrative simplification of complex morally consequential reality is always the drift of a film inspired by a book. Novels can do anything in the dark horrors of consciousness. Films do close-ups, car drive-ups, places, chases and explosions.
[P]eople only make decisions based on what they know. You can have everyone in the country vote freely and democratically and still come up with the wrong answer - if the information they base that decision on is wrong. People don't want the truth [when] it is complicated. They don't want to spend years debating an issue. They want it homogenized, sanitized, and above all, simplified into terms they can understand... Governments are often criticized for moving slowly, but that deliberateness, it turns out, is their strength. They take time to think through complex problems before they act. People, however, are different. People react first from the gut and then from the head... give that knee-jerk reflex real power to make its overwhelming will known as a national mandate instantly and you can cause a political riot. Combine these sins - simplification of information and instant, visceral democratic mandates - and you lose the ability to cool down. There is no longer deliberation time between events that may or may not be true and our reaction to them. Policy becomes instinct rather than thought.
I haven't been disingenuous in what I've said describing my perception of 'truth' and 'reality.' Certainly, I understand what is generally meant to be the 'truth, ' I understand this notion, but it's not something I trust in, OK? The only answer that feels true (I said feels, not is) is that yes, the character Minnie is me, but she is not me. She is a projection of some tumult which originates within me, but she is not me. I use elements of myself, including my likeness, for the character, perhaps as Cindy Sherman uses herself in her work, but like Sherman's photographs, the work itself is not any more about the creator than it is about everyone. I won't deny that Minnie does things I have done, and that things happen to her that have happened to me, but she, unlike me, having been created, is who she is and will remain so, unchanged now. I make no attempt to create 'documentary.' There is a process of dissociation that takes place when I make a story, I make creative decisions in a fugue state that I could hardly describe to you, but the end result is, I hope, a story with some meaning or resonance, something created, with a beginning, a middle and an end, an encapsulation of feeling and impression, but in no way a documentary of anything other than an 'emotional truth.' If I told most interviewers that my work is 'true' and that it is based on real events that occurred in my life, they would more readily accept this than they do the explanation I try to give. Sadly, what they would believe feels to me like a lie and a simplification of a process that is for me as complex and vague as life itself...
The Hartle-Hawking derivation of the unconditional probability of the existence of a universe of our sort is inconsistent with classical theism. The unconditional probability is very high, near to 1. For purposes of simplification, we are saying the probability is 99 percent; there is a 99 percent probability that a universe of our sort-I will call it a Hartle-Hawking universe-exists uncaused. The universe exists uncaused since the probability amplitude is determined by a summation or path integral over all possible histories of a finite universe. That is, the probability that a Hartle-Hawking universe exists follows directly from the natural-mathematical properties of possible finite universes; there is no need for a cause, probabilistic or otherwise, for there to be a 99 percent probability that a Hartle-Hawking universe will exist. This is not consistent with classical theism. According to classical theism, if a universe is to have any probability of existing, this probability is dependent on God's dispositions, beliefs, or choices. But the Hartle-Hawking probability is not dependent on any supernatural states or acts; Hartle and Hawking do not sum over anything supernatural in their path integral derivation of the probability amplitude. Furthermore, according to classical theism, the probability that a universe exist without divine causation is 0, and the probability that if a universe exists, it is divinely caused, is 1. Thus, the probabilities that are implied by classical theism are inconsistent with the probabilities implied by the Hartle-Hawking wave function of the universe.
If we are inclined to forget how much there is in the world besides that which we anticipate, then works of art are perhaps a little to blame, for in them we find at work the same process of simplification or selection as in the imagination. Artistic accounts include severe abbreviations of what reality will force upon us. A travel book may tell us, for example, that the narrator journeyed through the afternoon to reach the hill town of X and after a night in its medieval monastery awoke to a misty dawn. But we never simply 'journey through an afternoon'. We sit in a train. Lunch digests awkwardly within us. The seat cloth is grey. We look out the window at a field. We look back inside. A drum of anxieties resolves in our consciousness. We notice a luggage label affixed to a suitcase in a rack above the seats opposite. We tap a finger on the window ledge. A broken nail on an index finger catches a thread. It starts to rain. A drop wends a muddy path down the dust-coated window. We wonder where our ticket might be. We look back at the field. It continues to rain. At last, the train starts to move. It passes an iron bridge, after which it inexplicably stops. A fly lands on the window And still we may have reached the end only of the first minute of a comprehensive account of the events lurking within the deceptive sentence 'He journeyed through the afternoon'. A storyteller who provides us with such a profusion of details would rapidly grow maddening. Unfortunately, life itself often subscribes to this mode of storytelling, wearking us out with repetitions, misleading emphases[, ] and inconsequential plot lines. It insists on showing us Burdak Electronics, the safety handle in the car, a stray dog, a Christmas card[, ] and a fly that lands first on the rim and then the centre of a laden ashtray. Which explains the curious phenomenon whereby valuable elements may be easier to experience in art and in anticipation than in reality. The anticipatory and artistic imaginations omit and compress; they cut away the periods of boredom and direct our attention to critical moments, and thus, without either lying or embellishing, they lend to life a vividness and a coherence that it may lack in the distracting woolliness of the present.
Alain de Botton