William of Ockham
c.1280-c.1349. Medieval Scholastic theologian and philosopher. Born in Surrey, England, he entered the Franciscan Order about 1310 and studied at Oxford between 1318 and 1324. His ideas led to a summons to Avignon (1324) to answer charges of heresy. A dispute between Pope John XXII* and the Spiritual Franciscans was then at its height, and William identified himself with the Spirituals in opposition to John. In 1328 he left the city and went to the court of the emperor Louis of Bavaria. Excommunicated, William is supposed to have said to the emperor: “You defend me with your sword and I will defend you with my pen.” From 1328 until his death he produced powerful defenses of the imperial theory against those who favored the pope. After Louis's death in 1347 William made an effort to be reconciled with his order and the church, but the outcome of this attempt is not known.
His writings fall into two groups associated with the two phases of his life. While working for Louis (1333-47) he wrote works about the relation of church and state such as Dialogus Inter Magistrum et Discipulum, Octo Quaestiones Super Potestate ac Dignitate Papali, and Tractatus de Imperatorum et Pontificum Potestate. The nonpolitical works that contain his contributions to philosophy and theology were written while he was at Avignon and Oxford (1317-28). These include lectures on
Ockham criticized the accommodation of the philosophical system of Aristotle with Christian doctrine that had been fashioned by the thirteenth-century Schoolmen such as
E.A. Moody, The Logic of