ockham’s razor

Ockham’s razor is attributed to William of Ockham, a Franciscan friar and philosopher of the 14th century. (The correct spelling is actually Occam’s razor, even though William was of Ockham.)

Ockham’s razor has been written as

Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem which translates to “entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily”


Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate which translates to “plurality should not be posited without necessity”

It has been interpreted as keep it simple, but a more accurate meaning is

Other things being equal, the simplest solution may be the best one.

The complexity of our world today is a contributing factor to the environmental problems humanity and the Earth are experiencing. If we lived simpler lives and consumed less, we could go some way to solving these problems.

I was wondering why it was a razor. Verdurous told me,

I believe the ‘razor’ part refers to shaving away layers of complexity until you arrive at the truth.

3 thoughts on “ockham’s razor

  1. In hand-to-mouth existence, the capital required to invest on the technology that made us human would not be possible. If we don’t have technology, we would be just animals using just our body parts to meet our needs.

    The animals use their muscle power to lift objects, humans use hydraulic power. Animals use their legs to run, humans use cars. Animals use their wings to fly, humans use airplanes. Animals use their claws to dig, humans use excavators. Animals use their beak to stitch, humans use sewing machines. If human existence were hand to mouth, as in undeveloped economies, these tools that made possible for humans to live a secure and comfortable life on earth would not have been possible.

    These tools were possible because someone had more capital than his basic necessities. These tools were possible, because of profit. So profit is Good. It is profit that made us human.

  2. Girma,

    I don’t think anyone doubts the human race’s ability to adapt and improve, and utilise tools so their life got easier.

    What Clare implies here is that our desire to make life easier by adding increased levels of complexity comes at a non-monetary cost to the environment.

    The car makes it easier for us to get from A to B than walking, but that car took an astronomical amount of energy and difficult to refine resources to achieve the same.

    Profit is good until it goes from trade to theft. Then it’s bad.


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