Use Ockham’s Razor

The fourteenth-century English Franciscan friar William Ockham had time to think deeply. He wrote his thoughts on scrolls, allowing other educated people to study and comment on them. A man of God who focused on various hobbies, took up the task of theology and peppered it with the opinions of a philosopher. In other words, he tried to interpret God’s purpose and explain the ways and means in which God communicated with man.

Some argue that philosophy (a man thing) contaminated Ockham’s theological arguments. However, by using an art of man, Ockham provided guidance that applies to topics other than Christianity. Thus, Ockham’s razor and the topic: problem solving. Always plagued with problems, men and women ignore them, run away from them, impose them on others, or try to solve them. A wicked problem presents the greatest challenge. We don’t clearly understand the evil problem, why it happened, and we don’t have a ready-made solution to solve it. For the wicked problem, one develops hypotheses (good, but unproven ideas) about how to go about working out an implementable solution.

Ockham learned to distinguish between a good idea (that correctly addresses the problem) from an idea that requires one or more assumptions (about the problem). Think of an assumption as the setting or situation that presented the wicked problem. Simply put, Ockham determined that the simplest solution, the one with the fewest assumptions, was better. The term razor means what you think it does: cut (the assumptions). Learn about the power of this problem-solving principle and try it out on one of your problems.

For example: you and your wife fight and quarrel over family finances. Your problem: You two disagree on the effect you want to achieve, as a family, by using your combined income (and other sources of money). Ockham wants me to spend a lot of time writing (to come to an agreement) about the effect. After an enforceable agreement, you and your wife can offer solutions (ways and means) to achieve the one effect that you both agreed to achieve. In other words, use the razor to remove accusations about how the money was spent (a symptom of a problem).

Stay true to the “what” (the agreed-upon effect) and maneuver with the “how”. After both of you have agreed on the effect, one of you (or both of you) preventing or damaging that effect will understand who creates a new problem. A problem creator objected to the problem solving. Sit in judgment on yourself if you create a problem after you’ve given your word for effect. you is it so your word. # TAG1writer

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