Simplicity Is in Its Complexity

It is so simple that it is complex.

The other day I had a friendly debate with some of my relatives. The debate circled around the following two statements:

Complexity is in its simplicity.

Simplicity is in its complexity.

We were each saying which one we agree with more and why. Before picking sides I restructured the statements in a less confusing form. The first one basically says that things are so complex that they are simple, while the other one says the exact opposite – things are so simple that they are complex. Even though this still kind of sounds confusing, it makes a lot more sense.

I agree that yes, sometimes, we try to find complex ways to complex answers when it is all right there and very simple. However, I feel like the first statement applies to more everyday and ordinary things. For example, when you are trying to figure out the answer to a math problem, you try all the complicated methods, but at the end come to realize that the answer has been more straightforward and simple than you could ever imagine. On the other hand, the second statement applies to more abstract, global and deeper things. For example, if people would avoid all the fakeness and just be honest with each other then life would be much easier and happier. One might think it sounds easy and simple, but this is exactly what keeps people from doing so and this is exactly why it makes it complex.

The idea of simplicity in its complexity was one of the main concepts of modernism, which was the reaction to modernity starting from 1500s until now. Modernism is breaking free from tradition. People started thinking for themselves, asking questions and trying to figure things out. They would even ask questions that nobody knew the answer to. People started challenging things that were set in stone for years because those things and ideas seemed so simple that no one even bothered to actually think about them. But once people do think about them, they realize that they are not as simple as they seem, thus, simplicity is in its complexity.


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