oldschool CxC

Friday, June 01, 2007

Here's my viral thought of the day: "Pluralitas non est ponenda sine neccesitate"

This is one of those maxims that I've pondered a lot and incorporated into my personal philosophy, which, as personal philosophies should, applies to work, to politics, to drinking, childrearing, etc. It was coined by William of Occam a Franciscan monk who is thought to have died in the black death.

The strict translation is "plurality should not be posited without necessity." Its meaning was more likely "Don't multiply entities beyond necessity" (meant in theological and philosophical sense, and I first came upon it while reading medieval theology in college, but it literally applies to tax structures). Its called Ockam's razor and in popular usage is shortened to mean "don't complicate things" or altered to mean "the simplest solution is the best solution."

As with any good maxim, I can't tell you what it "really" means, because its like a rosarch test. For me its a reminder to be skeptical of complexity. An example is at work, where I always try to start a project in its simplest form, its most basic structure and interrogate any proposed increase in complexity; for me simplicity is the baseline and complexity bears the burden of proving its necessity. Glenn, you will soon appreciate this maxim when it comes to raising kids. Its been my experience that mothers tend to make everything more complicated than is necessary.

3 Comments:

Blogger REkz said...

"The simplest solution is the best solution". Wow. THAT's a dangerous statement!!!

And incorrect.

My re-spin would be "The simplest solution may be the most elegant solution."

But no matter what you look at, organic,digital, atomic, energetic -- it ain't very simple.

So Occam gets an F in reality, but an A for making people who want to live in denial about depth in things feel better about it.

Then again, I've never been a minimalist, or a non-materialist. I'm more into utilitarianism.

This interpretation of Occam's Razor seems to justify the beauty in statements like, "Oooh, their words had three syllables, Ma".

Because advanced language is also not so simple.

Or maybe Sony's saying he's an idealist at heart? Hmmmmm

2:28 AM  
Blogger Sony said...

When you use "so" it should be preceded by an argument or some evidence, not a mere statement of opinion.

Here's a litmus test for utiliatarianism: If a person needed a lung transplant, another a heart transplant, a third a kidney transplant and so on, would you advocate kidnapping a person, murdering them and transplanting their organs to save 5 others? A utilitarian would advocate that.

6:22 PM  
Blogger REkz said...

Some utilitarians might advocate that, I suppose. 'All' would be an over-application of Occam's Razor (over-simplifying).

I guess some right-wingers would advocate that if the person were poor, a minority, or a (so-called) illegal alien.

Sony, doesn't hearing 'illegal alien' rhetoric used by 'the conquerors' on Mexican workers make even you smirk?

I admit, I like the instruction on how to use "so". So, thanks for that.

Any suggestions for how to use the word "impeach"?

Funny how Davis was recalled (& swapped for Arnold, Ken Lay's buddy & G.Bush's biggest campaign contributor) for getting stuck in a bad situation and not taking the correct actions, but Bush is immune not only from inaction on 9/11 and overaction into Iraq with 'falsified' intelligence, but total lack of response to civic responsibilities like protecting the people he's entrusted to safeguard (New Orleans, Iraqi POW's, etc).

Occam's Razor applied to 9/11 says to me that Bush Sr or Jr paid off Al Queda to attack USA so that they'd have a convenient reason to invade Iraq and also push for martial law in the USA.
CIA was already paying them billions of $$$, and they were asking for a 'Pearl Harbor'-like event to unite USA against an enemy...

The likelihood of the explanation we're being offered to consume as "real" is ... not very simple or elegant, IMO. (And it doesn't explain to my satisfaction evacuating the Bin Laden family from the USA...)

5:18 PM  

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