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Wednesday, November 21, 2012


The term parsimony was derived  in the early 15th century from the classical Latin word "parsimōnia " meaning, moderation, stinginess, frugality, or niggardliness. The past particle stem "pars-" means to be moderate or spare, while the suffix "-monia" means state or condition. The term parsimony is generally used to describe being in a sparing state or restraining oneself from specific materials, using them in a moderate sense. It is defined as being conscientious  towards spending material wealth,i.e. money or being sparing in terms of responses, such as words or actions. For example sparing oneself from good fortune. The term may also be directed towards emotions, i.e. restricting ones self from the right to be happy. The term is not necessarily used to describe restrain towards oneself, but also the restrain shown to others giving, For example, choosing to refrain from giving money to the poor or buying an expensive present for a friend.
Parsimony is also used in economy as the supposition of reasoning and explanation. This is known as the "principle of parsimony"  which is used in Ockham's razor.  Ockham's razor states that an individual or an idea that assumes less shall be of much benefit, in other words a simpler explanation is preferred in comparison to a complex one. William of Ockham (1285–1349) was an influential Roman philosopher whose ideal views became the law of parsimony,  even though the law was formulated after his death. The concept of the razor is used to differentiate between two propositions by either "shaving" nonessential information or by splicing two propositions that are essentially the same. Ockham's  razor also consist of the principle of plurity, where Ockham states in the 14th century "A plurality is not to be posited without necessity" emphasizing how plurality should not stand for things that are of necessary, that the idea of less is always better.
This concept of being parsimonious can be seen in architecture, especially in designs that revolve around a minimalistic view. Either through being conservative with the amount of materials used in a building, or the type of ornament chosen to be represented. Modern architecture redefined the idea of ornamentation through the uses of Ockham's razor, building with necessity. This can be seen in the designs of architects such as Mies van der Rohe who also supports the parsimonious concept stating that  "Less is more".

Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University Press., "Parsimony." Last modified 2012. Accessed November 21, 2012. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/138169?
wikipedia, "Occam's razor." Last modified 2012. Accessed November 21, 2012. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam's_razor.

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