My almost favourite film Contact starring Jodie Foster mentions Ockham’s Razor where the principle is: keep it simple. If you prefer the original Latin: entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitate or stick to the basic idea – cut away the crap. The principle of simplicity was well established in 13th Century philosophy but the term Occam’s Razor only appears in 1852 in works by Sir William Hamilton – husband of Admiral Lord Nelson‘s mistress Emma Hamilton.
Nowadays attributed to William of Ockham, he didn’t actually write this – rather like the 1962 film The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance The idea of the word razor here is to shave away any excess in any argument or process.
The above Latin wording is now attributed to another Franciscan monk, philosopher & theologian John Punch (1603-1661) In Rome, his Latin name is Johannes Poncius or as prison inmates might call him: John Ponce. N.B. nothing to do with the perhaps better known John Punch first slave in the English Colonies.
The Man Himself
Born around 1287 in Ockham, a small village in Surrey outside the London-orbital motorway M25 with its own church and gastropub William of Ockham joined the Order of St Francis (still going strong with male & female members) where his commentaries on the prevailing orthodoxy got him into trouble, leading to a summons to the papal court in Avignon in 1324. There, he suffered two years house arrest before fleeing to Bavaria where Holy Roman Emperor Louis IV of Bavaria was in dispute with the Papacy. His flight eventually led to his excommunication in 1328.
In 1342 William became the leader of other Franciscan monks living in exile with Louis IV and died 10th April 1347. His annual day of commemoration with The Church of England marks this date and showing that all’s well that ends well, his excommunication was finally lifted in 1359 – somewhat quicker than that of Galileo which took more than 350 years