Ockham's Razor / Occam's Razor / Principle of Simplicity

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William of Ockham (also spelled Occam) was living in the Middle Ages (ca. 1285 – 1349). He was born in England in a town called Ockham near Ripley, Surrey. William devoted to a life in extreme poverty and minimalism and lived as a Franciscan friar and philosopher. He became a pioneer of nominalism, the position in metaphysics, that there exist no “universals” outside of the mind. Besides he was theologian, an outstanding logician and concentrated on epistemology and modern philosophy in general.

In 1324 he was suspected of heresy by Pope John XXII and spent four years under house arrest while his teaching and writing were being investigated. During this time Ockham even concluded that the Pope was a heretic. After massive dissensions between the Franciscan order and the papacy William fled to Munich and sought the protection of Emperor Louis IV of Bavaria. He spent much of the remainder of his life writing about political issues, including the relative authority and rights of the spiritual and temporal powers. He died in a convent in Munich, Bavaria (now Germany), possibly as a result of the Black Death.