William of Ockham Biography
Born In: Ockham Civil Parish, United Kingdom
William of Ockham was a 14th century English scholastic philosopher, who belonged to the Franciscan Order. Both a logician and theologian, he is considered to be one of the central figures of thought during the High Middle Ages. An outstanding opponent of Thomas Aquinas, he destroyed the latter’s medieval synthesis of faith and reason. It brought the ire of the Catholic Church upon him, since Aquinas’s work was whole heartedly accepted by the religious body. As a theologian, he went against the mainstream to suggest that God was a matter of faith and thus theology was not a science. In the world of metaphysics, he championed the case for nominalism unlike any other contemporary of his time. In logic, William of Ockham explained how words bear meaning through his version of supposition theory. Similarly, he defended the idea that we ‘perceive’ our surroundings, which forms the base of not only our abstract concepts but also our knowledge about the world. A courageous man with an exceptionally sharp mind, William’s logic to his philosophical debates stood on the foundation of the principle of simplicity. Known today as ‘Occam’s Razor’, it eliminates needless hypothesis in the favor of the simplest evidentiary fact.