• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Seek simplicity and distrust it. (Alfred North Whitehead). Is this always a good advice for a knower?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Seek simplicity and distrust it. (Alfred North Whitehead). Is this always a good advice for a knower? "The art of art, the glory of expression and the sunshine of the light of letters, is simplicity" (Whitman 1855 in Kaplan 1982) Walt Whitman exclaims and expresses his admiration for the virtue of simplicity. Many believe, that the simplest theory is the best and that it is simplicity, which reaches closest to truth and perfection such as Marcellinus Ammianus, who proclaims, that: "the language of truth is unadorned and always simple." (J�z�gou 2008)Also Leonardo DaVinci expresses his admiration for the virtue of simplicity, declaring it to be "the ultimate sophistication" (The-four-laws-of-simplicity-and-how-to-apply-them-to-life 2008). It seems, that if a knower seeks simplicity he automatically heads towards perfection and truth and that simplicity is always superior to complexity. But isn't this far too simplistic of a conclusion? It may be questioned how a complex world such as ours can be explained in simple terms and why simplicity is superior to complexity. How valuable and reliable is a simplified observation or information and how far can we trust simplicity in order to find the truth? "Seek simplicity and distrust it," the mathematician and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead proclaims and hence states that a knower should aspire to simplicity whilst he or she should be aware that a matter is always more complex than the simplified model leads us to believe. ...read more.

Middle

To reach simplicity, humans find patterns within the complex and create models that generalise their specific information. The complex information accumulated beforehand is important to create this theory and to back-up one's hypothesis. In the natural sciences, perception and reason are used to develop theories in order to explain observations or theoretical assumptions. These theories are often, on the surface, astonishingly simple, such as Einstein's Theory of relativity. That the simple is often preferred to the complex can be illustrated with the example of Occham's razor: The principle states that entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity and recommends to select "the theory that introduces the fewest assumptions and postulates the fewest entities." (Occham's razor 2008). It is therefore assumed, that "All other things being equal, the simplest solution is the best." (understanding-occams-razor 2008) An example of the application of this theory is the rejection by scientists of the hypothesis of a luminiferous ether in response to Albert Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity (Britannica Concise Encyclopedia: 2007) as this was less complicated and Newton's remark that "Nature is pleased with simplicity, and affects not the pomp of superfluous causes" (Simplicity, 2008) may help us to understand why human nature tends to seek for simplicity. When nature follows a simple logic then reason should guide us to find this logic and these patterns. The natural sciences aim to use reason and perception to find these patterns and to express them in a simple theory utilizing precise language. ...read more.

Conclusion

A knower should be aware, that we are never able to understand the whole complexity of a process or information, that everything is, in some form, simplified. Take natural phenomena in science for example: When we observe something we rely on our sense perception, which is rather narrow. The brain processes the information received through our senses and simplifies and ultimately interprets and alters that information. The "objective" observation we think we have made is therefore a rather limited and altered version of reality. Unconsciously we have already simplified information and therefore changed information before we are aware of it. As a result, it is not only the information that we consciously alter and simplify, we should also distrust the information upon which we base our assumptions. It can therefore be concluded, that Whitehead's advice is important for a knower as simplicity is vital to understand and evaluate information. A knower should ask him- or herself to what extent information can and should be simplified in order to comprehend it without altering its meaning or trivializing it. Accuracy should not be sacrificed in favour of triviality or as Einstein put it "Everything should be as simple as possible, but no simpler" (QuotationLibrary 2004). A knower may therefore seek simplicity in order to find gain a better understanding, find patterns or to draw conclusions but should always be aware that there is more complexity to a topic than it seems. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge essays

  1. TOK summer assignment - Art Questions. Experiencing art, artists reputations and "what is ...

    When the abstract types of paintings were being seen in the later rooms, the strokes became more visible again and paint was used excessively. Some were smooth while others had rugged strokes. By the end of the section, many types of brushstrokes were used, all depending on the type of the art.

  2. we will always learn more about human life and human personality from novels than ...

    Tu Bao : So, by reading novels we can gain knowledge of factors that contribute to the behaviour of people in the author's background? Charis : Yeah. By the way, since you are taking Scientific Psychology as one of your subjects, as a science subject, it needs to be unbiased

  1. In expanding the field of knowledge we but increase the horizon of ignorance.- Henry ...

    Consequently, there is a direct opposition to my scientific approach. By considering history's area of knowledge a case of disagreement presents itself. The horizon of ignorance cannot hope to broaden in historical contexts. The simplistic viewpoint mentioned earlier, that, the more we know means only that we know more details about the topic, applies when reviewing history.

  2. "...we will always learn more about human life and human personality from novels than ...

    These research methods are if considered valid, centred on a factual claim. The factual claim is what separates psychology the most from novels. During my replication of a psychological experiment on the effect of word positioning in a series and first impressions, the only thing that I learned of human

  1. Knower's profile. My history and experiences are responsible for the knowledge-seeking-individual I am ...

    My mom on the other hand was a high school science and middle school math teacher as well as an on and off principal. So as you can see, my parents put quite an emphasis on education, especially scientific. Unlike most children who grew up watching cartoons or listening to nursery rhymes, I grew up on documentaries, book and observations.

  2. We will always learn more about human life and human personality from novels than ...

    I believe your use of the word emotion is misplaced. You would be better off using the word "consciousness" instead. Scientific psychology attempts to reach a conclusion through reason. The way scientific psychologists use two methods to reach a conclusion; they observe patterns of human behavior and tendencies, establish a

  1. Is there knowledge we should not seek? Or is all knowledge inherently a good ...

    Another good example that l would like to bring up is the study of nuclear energy. As we all know nuclear energy provides humanity with huge amounts of energy, so why would it be harmful for people to know about this type of knowledge?

  2. Human Brain is no more than a highly complex computer. Discuss

    enemy during the Second World War, brought Turing to his death, where he committed suicide by poisoning himself with cyanide[2]. The human brain is technically divided into five parts; speed, memory, problem solving, flexibility and attention.[3] All five areas are precisely equal in the human brain.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work