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Depth In Simplicity -- Insights From Coin Tossing -- The Philosophy of Simplicity

Updated: Mar 9

A man in a happy mood.

From Luck to Mastery

During my time as a child, there was a mini-game in one of my favorite video games -- a coin toss game, and the music theme that accompanied that game was called "Depth in Simplicity." One might think to themselves, what depth is there in such a simple game, such as a coin toss?

Obviously, in order to win a coin toss game, you need luck, which is the most basic element when it comes to playing games, simply because it's the one thing that is beyond your control. In some cases, like when it comes to associating with people, you can increase your chances of luck by becoming wiser. However, in coin tossing you mainly need to concentrate on the coin.

And it's something that isn't as calculated as contemplating on the people in your life. You must be swift and precise in the same time, which could be more difficult to do than increasing your wisdom.

As I played it more and more, I realized that the seemingly simple act of a coin toss transformed into a test of delicate skill. The mini-game I was playing wasn't just about luck; it was about mastering the art of timing. Hit the timing right, and you'll overcome your foe. Master the art of timing, and you'll win some good gambling money from him.

Timing is the 35th law out of Robert Greene's 48 Laws of Power. It goes like this:

Never seem to be in a hurry -- hurrying betrays a lack of control over yourself, and over time. Always seem patient, as if you know that everything will come to you eventually. Become a detective of the right moment; sniff out the spirit of the times, the trends that will carry you to power. Learn to stand back when the time is not yet ripe, and to strike fiercely when it has reached fruition.

Thus, coin tossing, while a simple activity, is a test in wisdom, or in the ability to correctly apply your experience (AKA, your sight and focus of the coin's movement). To increase your chance of winning you must learn to clear your head out of unnecessary thoughts and emotions. Do not accept with full tolerance anything which hinders you from success, even if it is deep inside of you.

How to Master Simplicity

It gradually became my second-favorite minigame in that video game, simply because of the timing involved. Later on, I applied the same in bowling minigames. It wasn't just blind luck; it was a matter of patience and striking when the time was right. Miss a second or two and you'd lose both to your opponent and your hard-earned in-game money.

This simple coin toss game became a profound lesson in the power of simplicity. It's a gamble that rewards you with power (money in this case) when you apply your wisdom correctly. It is of no coincidence that a good ruler is not only a moral ruler but a wise one. As such, he/she will, for example, allow their subjects the freedom of expression, regardless of what their opinions make him/her feel.

You may rob the Three Armies of their commander, but you cannot deprive the humblest peasant of his opinion.

Like emotions shouldn't get in the way of management, they shouldn't get in the way of a simple coin toss game. Even the most basic things can be mastered, and that mastery doesn't require complexity, once you understand what needs to be done.

When you already have the plan, the reason in mind, all you need to do is to train yourself to apply it. If the plan fails, devise a new one, and apply it instead. The universe is built on logic, in a way the internet is built on code. Understand the code and you'll better understand the universe. That is the most basic element in philosophy: The ability to apply the code, or logic of reality, into different departments of it, and act in accordance to what you've learned.

However, let us not confuse simplicity with primitiveness. Primitiveness lacks depth. Simplicity depends not only on the act itself but also on its practitioner. The more talented you are, the simpler the subject of talent could become.

Therefore, simplicity is largely subjective. It is the interplay, the flow, between an action and between the one who does it. Simplicity becomes mastery when you can, for example, "do something with one hand tied behind your back". You become so good at it, elements of your own body become unnecessary in order to perform an excellent execution.

That is the depth in simplicity, when you can even write a philosophy article in such a way most people would easily understand it, without much effort needed. It is a degree of skill I often ponder if I'll ever be able to actualize, thus further promoting philosophy's relevancy.

A "primitive" coin toss player throws the coin and hopes for the best. They don't understand the nuances of timing, the importance of patience, and they give up easily when faced with setbacks. They don't learn from their mistakes, and may even often commit the causal fallacy, confusing logic with the arcane.

In contrast, a master of the game cultivates a sense of calm focus, waiting for the perfect moment to secure their victory. They depend themselves on technique, and far less on faith. It is something they can actually examine and work on as if it was physical exercise.

This experience with the coin toss game influenced my approach to life. As an adult, I find myself drawn to the simplicity of my childhood, comparing the work I do as similar to games I played. Both work and games are things that can be mastered through training and examination of one's abilities.

I am good in some games like I'm good in philosophy because I think about my own thinking, in relation to the activities I do. By making this a habit, you can better examine your mistakes and learn how to not repeat them. It's just like I realized I must ignore my emotions in order to be good at coin tossing, to be good at Tekken, and to be good in philosophy.

Living in the real world, however, often feels overwhelming in its unnecessary complexity. I've witnessed the stress of noisy neighbors, the frustration of students and teachers alike. There's a truth to the Hebrew saying. The external world seems to thrive on complication, despite the unhealthy impact of the stress that follows on our mentality and medical condition. I deviated from its orthodoxy on purpose.

Finding Focus and Harmony in a Chaotic World

And I do not regret the solitude that followed, for it is the solitude of which I seek to train in the art of writing philosophy articles.

It was only in solitude that I discovered a profound sense of contentment, a feeling I called "solitarus" - a love for existence nurtured by long periods of quiet reflection. This sense of peace was disrupted by the negativity I encountered on platforms like Quora, where people readily choose anger, hatred, and stress over the path of harmony and serenity.

Just like the coin toss game, maintaining composure is key. When emotions run high, focus fades, and the precise timing needed for success is lost. The game encourages a state of calm yet relentless focus. It's a skill that translates well into real-life situations. Only those who can stay relaxed and concentrated can achieve their desired outcome.

While your opponent's skill matters, it's ultimately beyond your control. That is unless you cheat, which is immoral and exploits the game out of its ability to teach you valuable lessons. Even if the opponent is a formidable player, improving your own merit secures the steady increase your in-game wealth. A wealth that grants you access to greater strength in other departments (your army, its equipment and so on).

So why waste energy worrying about your opponent, when worrying about your own skill could be important not only for you but also for others' usefulness in the long run? Focus on what you can control -- your own meticulous timing, your faith in yourself, and in your ability to judge your merit.

After all, bad faith only increases the odds of losing to a superior opponent. Positivity could yield better results.

Mr. Nathan Lasher's Short Intermission

Using a coin toss to your advantage. Come across anything resulting in split choices. Write down a list of reasons why you should pick that option. Assign each option as either heads or tails. Flip and let the coin decide what you should do. Most likely your gut will tell you what to do as it will lead you to wanting one outcome over the other. Thus making the coin toss irrelevant. 

What The Coin Tossing Proprietor Failed in Understanding

In the larger game, the name of your opponent is Igor. His main function is to open the coin-toss minigame in your base, which thus led me to write this article. So, thank you, Igor; your coins taught me a lot, even if you believed you had little use in my army.

"Mr. Tom? Well, I think he could come by to relax more often. It seems to me that he is ever so tired."
Igor, from Suikoden IV

He failed understanding the one flaw of simplicity: The path to mastery requires ruthless training. And for that you mustn't be so easy on yourself.

And that is why Tom had died, and got replaced by Tomasio.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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