Ockham /Occam, William of

Ockham /Occam, William of
(c. 1285-1349)
   Having been born in Ockham, Surrey, William joined the Franciscan order, and was educated at Greyfriars in London, and at Oxford. He was summoned to the papal court in Avignon to respond to a charge of heresy, but fled in 1328 before the verdict could be given; he was excommunicated for his pains. Ockham spent the rest of his life under the protection of Emperor Lewis of Bavaria. He acquired the nicknames of 'the invincible doctor' and 'the more-thansubtle doctor'. Ockham took a mediating position between nominalism and realism regarding the problem of universals. This position became known as conceptualism. This led him to the claim that morality depended to a very large extent on God's arbitrary commands. Ockham is perhaps best known today for his 'razor': the doctrine that entities (or types of entities) should not be multiplied beyond necessity. Perhaps, however, his contribution of most interest to present-day Christian philosophers is his solution to the problem of foreknowledge and freedom. This he accomplished by denying that accidental necessity accrues to God's beliefs about future contingents since his beliefs are soft facts. Ockham also leant more heavily on revelation than on reason for theological knowledge, rejecting the traditional arguments of natural theology for the existence of God. Ockham's argument with the Pope led to his writing much on the relationship between church and state, which he thought should be one of independence.
   Further reading: Adams, Marilyn McCord 1987; Ockham 1967-88, 1974, 1980, 1983 and 1990; Wolter 2003

Christian Philosophy . . 2015.

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  • Ockham — noun English scholastic philosopher and assumed author of Occam s Razor (1285 1349) • Syn: ↑Occam, ↑William of Occam, ↑William of Ockham • Instance Hypernyms: ↑philosopher * * * /ok euhm/, n. William of. See Occam …   Useful english dictionary

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