Chapter

Simplicity

Mike W. Martin

in Happiness and the Good Life

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199845217
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199933068 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199845217.003.0011
Simplicity

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Simplicity is a recurring theme in discussions of happiness, from Socrates and the Stoics to Thoreau to contemporary self-help books, but it contains complexities of its own. If simplicity is merely reducing complexity by cutting back on the number of our concerns, then it might be prudent or foolish. If instead it is the virtue of identifying and living by what is most important, removing undesirable distractions in order to stay focused on essentials, then it is akin to wisdom. Happiness is one important value, and hence enters into defining simplicity. The question then arises how happiness relates to familiar “simplicity themes” such as greater mindfulness, frugality, and conservation. Simplicity is best subsumed under the wider rubric of coping with complexity in good lives.

Keywords: happiness; simplicity; simple lives; wisdom; Thoreau; centered lives; coping with complexity; frugality; mindfulness

Chapter.  5181 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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