William of Ockham and the Divine Freedom

William of Ockham and the Divine Freedom

William of Ockham and the Divine Freedom

William of Ockham and the Divine Freedom

Excerpt

One way to approach the philosophy of William of Ockham (1290-1347) is to begin with his epistemology and point out its limits and its inadequacy. From this perspective Ockham emerges as a severe critic of Duns Scotus and Henry of Ghent and to some extent an adversary of Aquinas. One can also find in him a critique of previous Augustinianism and the origin of a more modern way in fourteenth-century scholasticism. That Via Moderna for all its logical precision is judged as leading to a drastic restriction of philosophical truth and to a scepticism about any knowledge beyond the empirical order. As a result the whole area of faith is greatly expanded and becomes in turn the only safeguard against a scepticism introduced by philosophy.

There are certainly adequate grounds in Ockham for such an approach. Against Scotus's world of formally complex realities Ockham consistently maintained a world of uniquely existing singulars, each of which was only itself and pointed only to itself. Knowledge of these singular beings was grounded in a sensible and intellectual intuition of their existential presence to the knower. All other knowledge became abstract knowledge which divorced itself from existence. Such abstract knowledge resulted in a relationship of concepts, a logic, a pattern of interpretations, which might be adequate as a possible explanation of the world but . . .

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