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William of Ockham

Philosopher

Born: c. 1285
Died: c. 1347
Birthplace: Ockham, England
Best known as: Medieval thinker responsible for the principle of Ockham's Razor
William of Ockham (also spelled Occam) was a 14th century English philosopher who was also a Franciscan friar. Resistant to the popular wave of Scholasticism, a philosophical position that tried to unify worldly and religious ideas, William of Ockham asserted that one could not know God through reason and rationality. His philosophy is sometimes called nominalism, and he is now most famous for only one of his many ideas, what is called the principle of Ockham's Razor (or The Law of Parsimony): that the simplest explanation to any problem is the best explanation. Because of his views challenging papal supremacy, Ockham was charged with heresy in 1324. He fled to Bavaria, where he spent the remainder of his life.

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