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Saturday, December 16, 2023


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If you have enemies, it means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.

— Winston Churchill

Pedants are compelled to say:

1. That the maxim 'Entities should not be multiplied without necessity' (Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem is not medieval at all, but was invented in 1639, substantially in its present wording, by the Scotist Commentator, John Ponce of Cork.
2. It does capture the spirit of genuinely medieval maxims of the form 'plurality is not to be supposed without necessity (Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate).
3. However, these maxims, though employed by Ockham, did not originate with him. Earlier philosophers, such as Scotus, also used them.
4. The maxim 'Entia non sunt &c' was first associated with Nominalism by Leibniz in 1670.
5. The label 'Ockham's Razor' was first applied in 1852 by Sir William Hamilton.

Ockham did say Frustra fit per plura, quod potest fieri per pauciora (it is pointless for something to happen through more, that could have happened through fewer) in his Summa Logicae I.12.


Oz the Pedant,

A very informative historical note. Thank you. I myself was not at all sure that the formulation I repeated was Ockham's own. But if we really want to be pedantic we shouldn't refer to the man via the name of his hamlet. Or worse, ask, "Have you read Ockham?"

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