11.17.2010

Part 2 of 3: Okham's Razor and Conceptualism

The description of worldly relations to the divine has been the predominant Christian worldview for longer than it hasn't been.  The reason for the small yet seismic shift is due to a Christian named William of Ockham.  Ockham developed a well known theory which philosophically upset the world of the Universals, this theory is called Ockham's Razor.  Ockham believed that a true theory did not need to contain unnecessary pieces and all unnecessary pieces within a theory could be thrown out because they are useless.  One may say that the theory simplistically stated would be something like: The simplest explanation is most likely to be the correct explanation.  Universals, according to Ockham were unnecessary and thus did not need to exist and therefore did not exist.

This theory had consequences however.  Because Universals are no longer have objective existence with in the Mind of God the link between God and man was effectively cut.  Where Realism would say that beauty is a universal quality that has a separate existence, Conceptualism is one step closer to the phrase, 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder."  Ockham didn't do away with universals completely however, he considered that we as humans conceptualize universals, and those conceptualizations are true.  Therefore, truth, beauty, goodness, and 'chairness' only exist in our minds.

Ockham referred to this (that Universals exist but only as concepts in our mind) as Conceptualism.  It was a slippery slope because our concepts of universals (in our minds) can be argued to not be real.  Conceptualism quickly gave in to Nominalism.

Next: What Nominalism Did and Why You Should Care