Thursday, December 25, 2014
Occam's (Ockham's) Razor
"The wisdom of life consists
in the elimination of non-essentials."
- Lin Yutang
"When you have eliminated the impossible,
whatever remains, however improbable,
must be the truth."
- Sherlock Holmes
Who was Occam?
According to Wikipedia:
William of Ockham (also Occam, c. 1288 – c. 1348) was an
English Franciscan friar and scholastic philosopher, who is
believed to have been born in Ockham, a small village in Surrey.
He is considered to be one of the major figures of medieval thought
and was at the centre of the major intellectual and political
controversies of the fourteenth century. Although he is commonly
known for Occam's razor, the methodological principle that bears his
name, William of Ockham also produced significant works on logic,
physics, and theology. In the Church of England, his day of
commemoration is 10 April.
What is Occam's Razor?
The entire metaphor and philosophy of Occam's Razor is based
on the principle that at the heart of every problem, dilemma or
baffling question there lies one, and only one, core issue which
needs to be resolved. Once we recognize what this one core issue
is, we are then able to properly solve our problem, resolve our
dilemma and answer whatever question that has been puzzling us.
Almost every problem which confounds not only us, but society
as well, has become confounding due to the many non-essential,
un-related and petty arguments which have been attached to the
one underlying core issue.
Once we strip away all of the petty controversies which find a way
of attaching themselves to any core issue, we are then able to
reduce all debates, problems and confusing thoughts to their most
basic principle. And once any argument or problem is reduced to
its most basic principle, the problem automatically solves itself.
But, why a razor?
A razor is a reference to shaving away, peeling away, or slicing
away all unnecessary and superfluous attachments which cover
up the one basic and simple answer, principle or Truth which one
As we keep whittling away all that is superfluous and unnecessary
we eventually uncover the one true and sole issue which has
become buried, concealed and lost beneath a mountain of
contradictory debates, petty arguments, confused thoughts,
unfounded theories, false information and biased thinking.
The metaphor of Occam's Razor instructs us that the simplest
and most unconditional answer, an explanation based upon the
fewest and possibly no assumptions, is most often the correct
answer; for it is the one answer that is free from all assumptions,
speculations, opinions, hypotheses and all other various types
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