Science & Culture

William of Ockham

William of Ockham (also spelled Occam, Hockham, or a number of other ways) was a fourteenth-century English philosopher and Franciscan friar known for his opposition to Thomas Aquinas's "medieval synthesis" of faith and reason and for his tendency to argue the principle of simplicity, often referred to as "Ockham's razor" even though he was not the only nor the first philosopher to use it. Little is known about William's early life. He is said to have been born in the small village of Ockham in Surrey, England sometime between 1285 and 1288. He was given to the Franciscans as a young boy and was sent to London to be educated. The Franciscans in London were well respected for their educational institution. Ockham began his theological training sometime around 1301, when he was in his 20s. By 1318, he was studying theology at Oxford, but he did not complete the program and returned to the Franciscan convent. His writings and views were controversial, and around 1323 he was accused of teaching heresy. A dispute arose between the Franciscans and Pope John XXII over Apostolic poverty, and William was asked to study the issue. His conclusion was that the pope was the heretic. He was excommunicated in 1328 and died in Munich in the late 1340s. Pope Innocent VI rehabilitated Ockham in 1359.

"William of Ockham," Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

"William of Ockham," New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia