William of Ockham, Franciscan Friar, Philosopher

10 April -- Commemoration
If celebrated as a Lesser Festival, Common of Teachers, page 473

Born at Ockham in Surrey in about the year 1285, William entered the Franciscan Order and, as a friar, he first studied and then taught at Oxford. He writings were ever the subject of close scrutiny, this being a time when heresy was suspected everywhere, it seemed, but he never received any formal condemnation. Later in life, he entered the controversy between the rival popes and had to flee for his life. His much-used principle of economy -- often referred to as 'Occam's Razor' -- stated that only individual things exist and that they are directly understood by the thinking mind and that this intuitive knowledge is caused naturally. His doctrine of God led him to destroy the thirteenth-century concept of the relationship between theology and philosophy and took the study of the philosophy of religion onto a new level. He died on this day in the year 1347.