Being simple may make us feel vulnerable, but simplicity is really an achievement — it follows from deep insight about what really matters, a result of hard-won clarity and focus. Developing simple explanations and theories require virtues such as nonstriving, nonattachment, and overcoming fear. Well developed explanations and theories, like their makers, are imbued with modesty: they don’t try to attract your attention for no reason. They are happy to sit in the background and do the work.
Many of us have seen what the opposite of this looks like. Have you ever witnessed a philosopher that was afraid to turn away easy opportunities to adapt her theories to new fields, even if it didn’t contribute to a better understanding of the phenomena? That is an outcome of greed.
Or how about the philosophers that keeps adding arguments and comments just because they can? That is an outcome of attachment, or striving.
Or maybe the philosopher that won’t make the hard decision to change positions in a debate because they don’t want to make their current allies angry? That is an outcome of fear.
Fear, greed, and attachment are just a few examples of ego-based afflictions that can plague any research. They dilute the purity of the true intention behind all research. For any organization or individual doing research, the clarity and simplicity of their results depend crucially on their ability to confront these issues.
A good philosopher has a clear intention, a commitment to quality over quantity. Many philosophers may make the same claim, but are reluctant to actually make tough choices. Consider how emotionally hard it can be to cut texts that have already been written or abandon positions already defended in print. A good philosopher must not be afraid of making a tough choice that would make him unpopular. She must be willing to risk her popularity with others in the pursuit of truth. She must transcend any feelings of greed, attachment, and fear that might accompany such a decision.
When we are fearful, greedy, or attached, our thoughts get manifested in the unnecessary complexity and clutter plaguing our theories. The more able we are to transcend our beliefs about ourselves, the better we can create great philosophy that clearly makes sense of the world.