The scam of simplicity

Just want things to be simple? I have sad news. Simplicity is a fussy chimera.  If simplicity is defined as an acceptable level of complexity then what is this acceptance if not an attitude? It is in this fickle acceptance where simplicity lives. Walking is simple but yet it really isn’t. An axe is simple but only sort of. C.S. Lewis wrote that “real things are never simple” using the complexities of a table and chairs as an example. We may have an attitude that a table or chair is simple when we use them but by sitting down to build either we are confronted with how complex they truly are.

However Thomas Paine wrote in Common Sense that the simpler a system of government we have the less likely it is to be corrupted. So perhaps there is such a thing as objective simplicity. If fewer parts in a system amounts to a simpler thus more reliable system then we have a standard for simplicity for that system that relates to its parts. But this still prioritizes the experience of repairing the system rather than using it and when fully considered returns us to where we started.

So how do we judge whether something is simple? It is, unfortunately, complicated. As I desire control over something I expect and accept more responsibility and less automation. So whether you are buying a car or a smartphone simplicity will mean something different when you are 25 that it will at age 65. It is in this sense that simplicity is a pursuer and we are the capricious ones.