Skip to main content

Lets Bring Back Ockam's Razor

William of Ockam
William of Ockam was a 14th century Franciscan friar.  He is most famous for developing the philosophical principle of "lex parsimoniae" or "law of briefness." 

This principle simply states that:

"Things should not be done more times than they need to be."
The guiding logic behind this is that if there are two possible explanations then the one that is the least complex is better.  Why?  Because the truer something is the simpler it should be.

Let's take these two phrases for example:

"The wind blew and caused the tree to fall on the house."

"The tree fell on the house."

Which out of the 2 do you think is utilizing, Ockam's principle?

If you answered the latter you are correct.  Because in the first phrase one can make many assumptions, such as the velocity of the wind, the time of the fall, other factors, etc.  You see based on this phrase one needs to make several assumptions in order to render this phrase true.  While in the second phrase this is not necessary, thus making it true based on Ockam's reasoning.

The reason why I decided to write about this is that I believe that most people (including myself) have lost the ability to say things simply and accurately. We are all brainwashed in school that it doesn't matter if what we say is incorrect; as long as we are trying then that's OK.  Self esteem has taken the place of logical accuracy thus resulting in a society that is logically illiterate. At best our minds are confused at worst deceived.  How can one discern truth if one does not know how to think? 

Consider these quotes from some of history's greatest minds:

"The things that we love tell us what we are.” - St. Thomas Aquinas

"If there were no God, there would be no Atheists."- GK Chesterton

"Remain silent, and you will never regret it.  Speak and you often will. - St. Josemaria Escriva

"Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall." - Ronald Reagan

"We have nothing to fear, but fear itself." - Franklin Roosevelt

We all need a little of Ockam's razor in our lives.  Simplicity is a great thing.   



Popular posts from this blog

10 Great Quotes from The Book of Sirach

The book of Sirach is a book that is often overlooked in the bible. This is unfortunate since this book contains many wise, practical saying on how to live a virtous life. The book was believed to have been written between 200-175 B.C.E.

Here are ten quotes that I feel best reflect this timeless work.

1."Do not become a beggar by feasting with\borrowed money, when you have nothing in your purse." Sirach 18:33

2."In all you do remember the end of your life, and then you will never sin." 7:36

3.."Glory and dishonor come from speaking; a man's tongue is his downfall." 5:13"

4."A wise man is cautious in everything." 18:27

5."One who trusts others is light minded." 19:4

6."If you pursue justice, you will obtain it and wear it as a glorious robe." 27:8

7."Many have fallen by the edge of the sword, but no many as have fallen because of the tongue." 28:18

8." In all of your work be industrious and no sickness will…

George Michael, Carrie Fisher, and The Afterlife

I was stunned, as was most of the world was when I heard about the passing of George Michael on Christmas day.  Michael possessed enormous talent was and one of the most successful acts in the 1980's and early 90's

Shortly after Carrie Fisher died.  Fisher was famous for her legendary role as princess Leia from the Star Wars movies.  Strangely her mother also died the day after.

2016 was a notable year for celebrity deaths.

Some names include Prince, Glenn Frey, David Bowie,  Doris Roberts, Alan Rickman, and Muhammad Ali.

As a Catholic these deaths got me thinking about the transient nature of life and the inevitability of death.

Marcus Aurelius, the stoic, emperor, philosopher king wrote about the passing nature of life as he reflected, "Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away."

Even though I agree mostly with Aurelius&…

Me vs. The Almighty

There is a famous scene in the Bible where Jacob wrestles with God.  Jacob fights with God until God takes out a bone from Jacob's thigh. Interestingly, God eventually relents and stops fighting with Jacob. After this dramatic incident, Jacob is renamed Israel which literally means, "he who struggles with God."

I can relate to this story.  Many times in my life I have argued with God. I still do. (my wife can attest to that.) Many times I have criticized his tactics, his ways, and his wisdom. In my worst moments, I have even used choice language. I have a complicated relationship with God. Like Jacob, I have wrestled with God. (thigh bone still intact)

Recently I approached a priest friend of mine and told him of my struggles with God.  I expected that he would chide me for my lack of respect and informality. What this priest said was illuminating and encouraging. He told me that it was OK at times to be angry with God, God understood. He, in fact, encouraged this honest…