The Last Furlong

Comments on the race of life.

Ockham and the midnight oil


Can’t sleep.  I’ve been doing well in my own bed next to Mr Furlong.  But not tonight.

I am thinking of Ockham. I reckon he burned the midnight oil pondering about the idea that the simplest answer is always the best.

Occam or Ockham’s razor  from Wikipedia

Occam’s razor (also written as Ockham’s razor and in Latin lex parsimoniae) is a principle of parsimony, economy, or succinctness used in problem-solving devised by William of Ockham (c. 1287–1347). It states that among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected. Other, more complicated solutions may ultimately prove correct, but—in the absence of certainty—the fewer assumptions that are made, the better. End quote

Occams razor is always thrown around in hot scientific debates and I’m not sure why.  It applies to philosophy. Not science. There is nothing simple about most stuff in science. Not even scientists know about other branches of science. And Ockham would not believe what we cumulatively know now.  Even in science, we can’t even say for sure that God is or isn’t. Still! He might be a scientific principle – like gravity, or dark matter.

The situation right now in the arena of world affairs is so confusing with which side is right and which side is wrong, who shot or blew something  up or down, that Occam’s razor seems defunct, redundant, if not totally and completely  kaput. It cannot be used in politics either.

I am suggesting it was OK when Ockham thought it up whilst debating with other monks on whether Jesus owned his own sandals and stuff,  but nowadays it rarely applies to much.  We have got so tangled in our web of spin, illusion, lies and deceit, that now, sometimes, the MOST assumptions in just about everything are, in fact, the ones we should select.



Author: Elizabeth

I'm someone also pounding the Path, just like you.. I'm retired, going into Old Age and loving my life. I'm hoping to remain happy and well for as long as possible. Old Age is not SO bad - yet!

6 thoughts on “Ockham and the midnight oil

  1. Funny it should happen to you on the same night. I woke up very early, and can’t sleep either. I think it’s The Moon wot does this to me.
    I don’t really understand the Razor thingy so I work on the principle of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintainance. sic. Never ignore the obvious. If something electrical doesn’t work, first check the plug.
    A great book, by the way. Well worth reading, although it doesn’t have much to do with motorbikes.


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