Complexity and Simplicity

  • Title: Contemplations, Complexity and Simplicity.
  • Author: Arvindus.
  • Publisher: Arvindus.
  • Copyright: Arvindus, 2022, all rights reserved.
  • Index: 202207121.
  • Edition: html, second edition.


The word 'complexity' refers to a "[c]omposite nature or structure".1 It is derived from the word 'complex', which stems from the Latin 'complex', which in turn consists of 'com', meaning 'together', and 'plex', meaning 'to plait' or 'to twist'.2 So something complex is basically something twisted together.

As opposite of complexity stands simplicity,3 which is, not surprisingly, considered as "absence of compositeness, complexity, or intricacy".4 This word is derived from the word 'simple', which stems from the Latin 'simplus' or 'simplex'.5 'Simplex' is of course composed of 'sim' and 'plex',6 whereby 'sim' is rooted in the Indo-European 'sm', indicating a sameness, and 'plex' in the Indo-European 'pl', indicating a folding.7 So something simplex is basically something folded into the same, meaning into itself.

Complexity is a together folding and simplicity an itself folding. These opposites are of course reminiscent of, because related to, the opposites of diversity and unity. A diversity (a manifold or many-fold) is a complexity and a unity (a onefold or one-fold) is a simplicity.

This diversity and this unity are always contained in human consciousness. Or said differently: human consciousness is the meeting ground of diversity and unity.8 Human consciousness is as such never able to be purely complex or purely simple. The lower psyche, consisting of instinct, emotion and the concrete mind, brings in the awareness of diversity and complexity and the higher psyche, consisting of the abstract mind, the intuition and the will, that of unity and simplicity.9

Now human consciousness is not static. It involves and it evolves. When involving human consciousness goes from unity to diversity, from simplicity to complexity, and when evolving it goes from diversity to unity, from complexity to simplicity. And this latter is basically the development for contemporary humanity.10 Human evolution moves from complexity to simplicity.

The above means that it is the task for humanity to bring simplicity into complexity. That is why the concept of 'unity in diversity' is so strongly ingrained in the collective human consciousness. Humanity knows its path to tread. But to bring simplicity into complexity does not mean to deny the complexity. It does not mean that humanity should strive to live in an isolated simplicity. No, a human should bring unity in diversity, bring simplicity in complexity.

Now to bring simplicity into complexity basically means for a human individual to bring his higher psyche into his lower psyche. And this means that he must bring abstract though into concrete thought, and also to bring in the intuition and the will.11 It is in the end a matter of bringing the simple being into the complex beings through which great cultural expressions are created.12 Complexity therein will not be denied but be elevated to simplicity.

May we thus elevate our complexity to simplicity.