William Ockham

  • Medieval Era
  • 2 mins

By Crusader1307

An English Philosopher, William was born in Surrey, England in 1285. He became a Franciscan Monk. The prevailing “philosophy” of The Era was Scholasticism. This was the belief that all elements of religion, science and philosophy all fit into one unified belief system. As a Student at The University of Paris – William challenged this view. William posed that God's power was absolute and needed no explanation. God was not an abstract notion. One's “belief” in God was a matter of faith. Additionally, William felt that as long as God “existed”, nothing was truly “necessary”.


This opinion created a huge space in Scholasticism (and other philosophy). Ockham developed the now well known theory of Ockham''s Razor. This is that the simplest explanation for any problem is the best explanation. Developed to stop other Philosophers from creating more and more complex “steps” to convey their theories. In more Modern terms, “Ockham's Razor” is one of the most valuable tools in Science. A “Realist”, Ockham pushed a litle too far in his rebuff of The Church practices in Communion.


A mater of Dogma and a sacred Sacrament, - Ockham stated the the bread and wine used only occupied the “space” of the original (and was not therefore – the same). Ockham had just taken on the theory of Transubstantiation. Still, this was still not Ockham's “end game”. In 1324, he was ordered to Rome to explain why he was teaching that John The Baptist was a heretic and that policy of Papal Supremacy was worn. Ordered arrested (and no doubt facing death), Ockham escaped and fled to his ally The Holy Roman Emperor (Louis IV). Not wishing to initiate another civil war, Ockham fled to Bavaria. Still writing Philosophy, he would die in Munich in 1349 (probably of plague).