Deming Communities
Profound Knowledge

Peter R. Scholtes on Holmes(1998/10)

Dear Hanching:

I hope that my response is not so tardy that it will be no help to you.I'm sorry to be so late. Oliver Wendell Holmes was a great AmericanJurist. He was also, however, a philosopher and deep thinker.

By "thesimplicity on this side of complexity" I think he was referring to superficial and simplistic answers. "The simplicity on the other side of complexity" refers, I believe, to simple and profound truths that one arrives at by thinking deeply about things. Thoughtful answers to complex questions can yield many more questions than the first questions arrived at.

Einstien said "Things should be made as simple as possible, but not any simpler." And HL Mencken, an American writer, said, "to every complex problem there is a simple answer... and it is wrong!". They were expressing similar thoughts as those of Holmes. Thoughtful responses may take a lifetime of looking for the implications and contexts surrounding complex problems. But that effort usually results in simple truths rather than simplistic truths.

I also read your "Fire Sermon and Deming Philosophy". I think it is very good. You are a very good writer.


Peter R. Scholtes

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