By Natural Philosopher Mike Prestwood

Who was William of Ockham, and what principle is named after him?

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Occam's Razor < Idea Evaluation < Five Thought Tools < TST Framework

William of Ockham was a medieval English philosopher and theologian, born arouOccam’s Razor < Idea Evaluation < Five Thought Tools < TST Frameworknd 1287 in Ockham, a small village in Surrey. Occam’s Razor, or with his original medieval spelling, “Ockham’s Razor,” was named after him. While he is most famous for the common heuristic, he is also renowned for his advocacy of metaphysical nominalism—the belief that only individuals exist, rather than overarching universal concepts.

His Occam’s Razor principle advocates for simplicity in explanations, stating:

“Simpler theories are (all things being equal) generally better than complex ones.”

It’s a foundational guideline in idea evaluation such as scientific inquiry and critical thinking. It encourages the pursuit of explanations that are as uncomplicated as possible but no simpler. I even used it to help forge my The Consciousness Evolution Timeline. Ockham’s contributions to logic, philosophy, and theology were profound, influencing not just his contemporaries but also shaping modern scientific and philosophical thought. His work remains a cornerstone of the principle that simplicity is a virtue in understanding the complexities of the universe. 

Occam’s razor is a type of Idea Evaluation. Idea evaluation is one of the Five Thought Tools of the TST Framework. For a deep dive, read my 5-minute article: “Occam’s Razor: Simplifying Complexity.”

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