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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Life by Occam's Razor

Picture of William of Ockham
I came across this rather ingenious idea quite by mistake. It seems that "Occam's razor" (also spelled 'Ockham' after William of Ockham, a 14th century English logician and Franciscan friar, apparently) is all about keeping things simple. More scientific in its application, it basically states that, as put so succinctly by Wikipedia, "All other things being equal, the simplest solution is the best." Also known as the lex parsimonaie in Latin, or by its translated English name, The Law of Parsimony, the original states entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem; that "entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity". I would just try and say, "Don't complicate things." Good luck with that becoming Kallat's Razor!

Funny thing is, that I have been trying to simplify my life in all areas; from the number of things I own, to the kinds of things I like to eat, to the kind of life that I would like to lead. This has meant traveling, or moving house, with as limited a collection of personal belongings as possible, for example, although, I have to admit that there are millions of people out there who do this better than me. Still, I'd like to think that not having acquired even basic elements of furniture or major household appliances well into the second five-year term of my working life, I'm heading down this path rather well. Or maybe, I have missed the ultimate point of this simplicity because rather than live my life by it, I have chosen to wear it like some sort of strange badge that makes me the expert on this sort of thing. Or, something along those lines. But, I have to say that it feels good when I look at some of the people I have met and lived with, and who are related to me even. I see what it means to have everything and nothing at the same time. This to me is simple, but it's a whole other world of complicated messes, if you're not inside this head. He he he.

I guess I would like to see how far this will go, or perhaps I should say, how long this will go on for. You won't believe the kind of pressure that you experience for attempting to live like this in the "real" world. It can be a little too overwhelming at times. But, I'd like to think that I've made it this far. Now, however, the pressure is insurmountable because it comes at me from a source close to my heart. I know that I can give up living life parsimoniously. But I also know that those that ask me to do this do not know what it means to live like this at all. And making other people happy is easy because you learn to let things go every now and then for the sake of someone else's sanity. I just feel like the only thing that's stopping me at the moment is the fact that I
know it's going to be very hard to come back to this if I ever leave it.

Why is this a scary choice? Because the beauty of the world around us comes alive in its simplicity. Because life is simple in its ability to be lived, without pain, without suffering and without effort. Because simplicity is truly effortless and illuminating at all levels of existence. And one need not even try. That, to me, is the beauty of the simple.

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Acknowledgments:

1) All the information for this post was taken from Wikipedia.org. Thank you.

2) The sketch of William of Ockham was taken from TheRazor.org. Thank you.
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