The Philosophy of Knowledge of William of Ockham (Guillelmus De Ockham)June 27, 2021
William of Ockham, who lived between about 1300 and 1350, achieved an important turning point in medieval thought, since he accepted the real existence of only objects, started knowledge with experiment, and said that the objects of philosophy and theology were different from each other. William of Ockham, who also researched what kind of relations language has with thinking and existence, was therefore very interested in logic, the functioning of logic and the nature of knowledge.
William of Ockham begins his research with regard to the philosophy of epistemology by first looking at the nature of knowledge, secondly the subject of knowledge, thirdly what kind of conclusions can be drawn about them, and finally what is natural science (William: 1990, 3).
According to William of Ockham, knowledge is in the soul; knowledge is the sum of the various qualities and forms of the soul (William: 1990, 3). William of Ockham says that he is talking here only about human knowledge, showing it this way: First, knowledge is a quality as a habit (habitus), just like the act of knowledge. That is, both knowledge and the act of knowledge are qualities, therefore, knowledge is habitually a quality. For him the major premise is the admission that knowledge is habitually a quality, the minor premise that is not clear here, so William of Ockham sets out to prove the minor premise that the act of knowledge is habitually a quality: it is impossible to learn about the truth of something from contradictory statements. Besides, the soul can think of something it has never thought of before. So the soul has something it didn’t have before; this thing is either an act of thinking or something of the will type. Since the act of thinking and the will are qualities, the habit of knowledge is such a quality or a collection of such qualities. Someone who thinks this way now has something he didn’t have before. This thing might just be a habit. Therefore, habit, as a subject of the soul, is in the soul. Habit is a quality, since a quality can only be found in the soul as a subject of the soul. That is, the habit of knowledge is a quality found in the soul (William; 990.4).
Second, the term knowledge has many different meanings, and one cannot be subsumed under the other (William:1990, 4). Namely, in the first sense, knowledge is the precise understanding of something that is true. In this sense, some truths are known with confidence. For example, when we say that we know Rome is a great city even though we have never seen it, or when I say that I know that one person is my father and the other is my mother, there is no “obvious” knowing, but we take sides in such things without any doubt. ; we are told that we know them (William: 1990, 4). In the second sense, knowledge means “to know clearly”. In this case, it is not about knowing what others say, but the knower’s knowing something by his own activity. According to the example given by William of Ockhamh, what is in question is that even if no one tells him that the wall is white, that person knows by seeing the whiteness of the wall (William: 1990, 5).
In the third sense, knowledge is the explicit knowledge of some necessary truth. In this case, objects of knowledge are possible facts in the sense of first principles and the conclusions drawn from them. In the fourth sense, knowledge is the explicit knowledge of necessary premises and the explicit knowledge of certain necessary truths which are brought about by reasoning. According to another distinction, knowledge sometimes means knowing the result clearly and sometimes knowing the proof as a whole (William: 1990, 5).
According to another distinction, knowledge is sometimes considered numerically as a single habit; In this sense, there are not many different habits from each other. Sometimes knowledge is treated as the sum of many habits. As such, knowledge means science. In this sense, a science consists of parts, first principles, results of the whole; terms include rejecting wrongdoing. Therefore, metaphysics and natural philosophy are sciences (William: 1990, 5-6).
Neither metaphysics nor natural philosophy nor mathematics are numerically unique, they are parts of knowledge. On the other hand, this whiteness, this heat, this man, this donkey are accepted as numerically unique. William of Ockham proves that metaphysics and natural science are not numerically unique: Metaphysics contains many consequences. For example, a person may know only one outcome, but the same person may be mistaken about another outcome at the same time. because, as experience has shown, one stumbles upon trying to pay attention to more than one outcome at the same time; he actually learns first one result, and then another: wrong about outcome A and A’s scientific knowledge formally contradict each other, but wrong about A and scientific knowledge about B do not contradict each other formally. Because they can occur simultaneously. Therefore, the concept of scientific knowledge of A and the concept of scientific knowledge of B do not refer to the same thing, because things