C. 1287–1347: William of Ockham

Glass mosaic in Surrey


The friar and philosopher William of Ockham is best known for his razor: The problem-solving principle of choosing the explanation based on fewest assumptions. In 1339 and 1340, two statutes ban Ockham’s ideas from the faculty of arts at the University of Paris.


‘Purely philosophical assertions which do not pertain to theology should not be solemnly condemned or forbidden by anyone, because in connection with such anyone at all ought to be free to say freely what pleases him.’
– William of Ockham, Dialogus vol. 1, bk. 2, ch. 22