On Simplicity

“The simple person lives the way he breathes, with no more effort or glory, with no more affectation and without shame… Simplicity is freedom, buoyancy, transparency. As simple as the air, as free as the air… The simple person does not take himself too seriously or too tragically. He goes on his merry way, his heart light, his soul at peace, without a goal, without nostalgia, without impatience. The world is his kingdom, and suffices him. The present is his eternity, and delights him. He has nothing to prove, since he has no appearances to keep up, and nothing to seek, since everything is before him. What is more simple than simplicity? What lighter? It is the virtue of wise men and the wisdom of saints."

Andre Comte-Sponville, contemporary French philosopher

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."

Leonardo da Vinci, Renaissance genius, artist, inventor, and polymath

“Perfection is achieved not when you have nothing more to add, but when you have nothing left to take away… And now here is my secret, a very simple secret; it is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye."

Antoine De Saint-Exupery, French aviator and author of The Little Prince

“You don’t need to outdo the competition. It’s expensive and defensive. Underdo your competition. We need more simplicity and clarity."

Jason Fried, founder of 37signals

“A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked."

John Gall, systems theorist

“Unity and simplicity are the two true sources of beauty."

Johann Joachim Winckelmann, German art historian and archaeologist

“If a thing can be done adequately by means of one, it is superfluous to do it by means of several; for we observe that nature does not employ two instruments where one suffices."

Thomas Aquinas, theologean

“Simplifying is not necessarily about getting rid of everything we’ve worked so hard for… It’s about deciding what’s important to us, and gracefully letting go of the things that aren’t."

Elaine St. James, author

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Published: September 7, 2008Last updated: September 7, 2008

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