2011-09-15

Ockham Rap


This has to be one of the Geekiest things I have ever written. I am co-teaching a class called "The God Debate" about religious belief and unbelief. Several of the thinkers we have examined on both sides of the debate have referred to William of Ockham and his [in]famous "razor". For those who do not know, Ockham was a 14th century Franciscan Friar, a professor at the University of Oxford, one of the founders of the scientific method, and also excommunicated by the Pope for reasons that are partially philosophical and mostly political. Anyway, I thought, "Hey, I should write a rap song to explain Ockham." So, I did. What makes this even stranger is that I am more of a mystical Thomist with a serious affection for postmodern deconstruction. So, it is odd that after an hour and a half of doodling, this came out:

The Ockham Rap
Copyright (c) 2011 by Nathan L. Bostian

His name is William of Ockham
And his philosophy's rockin'
Metaphysical speculations
Are what he's blocking

We rely on too many causes
To explain our problems
Like using angels and demons
To try and solve 'em

When a simple explanation
Based on sense and sight
Would completely describe
Almost anything, right?

This is called Ockham's razor
A speculative saber
Cutting off extra entities
Like they were shot with a phaser

Like when you use three factors
To describe what two factors do:
Why do you use that third factor
Like some kind of fool?

Simply! Says this guy!
On crutches don't rely!
Rid yourself of superstitions
And all excessive replies.

The only things that exist
Are the things themselves.
No need to resort
To abstract universals!

In fact we have no need
For disembodied spiritual forms:
They are all just names
We give to categories and norms

We call this Nominalism
To break you out the the prison
Of confusing individual things
With the Names we give em

For instance: A dog is just a dog
Not an instance of dogness
And fog is water droplets
Not the essence of fogness

So don't think a human person
As part of abstract humanity
And don't use the category "fish"
When you deal with a manatee

Stick to simple, direct,
Particular observations
And never multiply entities
To try and explain them.

This is the Philosophy of Ockham
In a nice little rhyme
And it led to empirical science
In a few centuries time.
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This is a bunch of stuff to make us think hard about our incredible love affair with the God of the universe, our astounding infidelities against him, and his incredible grace to heal and restore us through Christ. Everything on this site is copyright © 1996-2015 by Nathan L. Bostian so if you use it, cite me... otherwise you break the 8th commandment, and make God unhappy. You can contact the author by posting a comment.