By A Lidden
“I like simple things, the simple truth, simple people and the simple life.”
We often hear those words, or similar ones, in our day-to-day conversations, and elsewhere, usually when our lives have become so confusing, we’re at a loss about what to do, or else we’re trying to express our heart’s deepest desires.
“Keep It Simple, Stupid” is not just the statement of an acronym (KISS) for success in homemaking and running a business, it’s very sound advice for persons whose lives are in disorder or worse, like in total chaos.
Simple is also a good description of sound thinking, as in philosophy’s advocacy of “Occam’s Razor,” which, named after its originator, William of Occam (1287-1347) declares, in uncluttered fashion, that “the best answer to a problem is the shortest,” or “the one with the fewest assumptions.”
In other words, don’t make the quest for a solution more complicated than it really is.
Keep reading. We’ll get to where I want to go shortly.
In our descriptions, we also sometimes use the adjective form of “simple” for clarity, by saying of whatever it is we’re describing that it is “simplistic,” meaning, to my mind, that something more is needed to be said. Or if we use the word to describe someone else’s opinion, we might degrade that opinion by saying that is simplistic— meaning infantile, immature and inadequate.
Indeed, we do use “simplistic” in a positive manner, to make a serious request for greater clarity. “Say what you mean in terms I can understand, make them simplistic.”
Which brings us to “simple-minded.” Seldom do we use “simple-minded” to praise or express approval. No, it’s a put-down, most frequently used to denigrate another, to declare that the other is being immature and, in the long run, irrelevant because he or she has not advanced beyond a childish state of mind.
In describing Donald J. Trump, shall we say that in his thinking he is “simple,” “simplistic,” or “simple-minded.”