The principle of parsimony is a fundamental philosophical tool. So, is modern philosophy over-complicated? Simplicity is also elegant. So is modern philosophy inelegant? As well as prolix, irrelevant, impenetrable,... and boring? Answers in 100 words or less, if at all possible!

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    Does this answer your question? Do some philosophical questions tend to entertain vacuous ideas? Dec 28, 2023 at 14:19
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    To the question in the title. I believe it is. The late comedian Norm Mac Donald's style was the opposite. following one of his meandering jokes has been described as being led on a 10-mile hike in the woods just to look at a turd. Dec 28, 2023 at 18:27
  • Yes! Plus whatever is needed to qualify the joke under PSE’s rules for a minimum # of characters! Dec 28, 2023 at 20:01
  • I really think someone could make a 400 page textbook that takes the student on a speedrun through the whole analytic philosophy, argument by argument, without the loss of any information that would affect their ability to participate in the discipline.
    – Hal
    Dec 28, 2023 at 23:57
  • Probably it is erroneously attributed to Einstein: "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler”. Nevertheless it is a good precept for each kind of scientific writing and also for explanation in general.
    – Jo Wehler
    Dec 29, 2023 at 16:53

2 Answers 2


Firstly, may I say that it was very wise of you to phrase your question in such a way that it appears not to be inviting opinions, otherwise it might have been closed by the over-zealous mods.

I think wit is the soul of wit- I would rather read a long witty passage than a short witless one. That said, a long witless piece is the height of tedium, and philosophy furnishes no end of them. I cannot say philosophy is alone in that lamentable regard- turgid, overblown, impenetrable verbiage is regrettably common in academic writing on all subjects.

  • AI will save us the trouble of having to write such things.
    – Scott Rowe
    Dec 28, 2023 at 20:22

On technical matters, one can be, at best, two of:

  1. precise,
  2. concise, or
  3. widely understood.

For greater precision, we can use more words or we can invent terms that we define more precisely. In virtue of those terms being invented, they are not widely known. As a result, we're left to pick any two of the listed options.

That said, there's no shortage of writers who fail to pick even two! One of my professors confessed to intentionally doing so for pragmatic reasons. He even advised us to do the same when we had little to say or wanted to mask holes in our arguments. (He was a cynic.)

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    "This letter is long because I didn't have time to make it shorter."
    – Scott Rowe
    Dec 28, 2023 at 23:49

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