|The Library at Biltmore|
Eventually my mind wandered to that famous philosophical principle: Occam's Razor. This principle, like many that have been around for hundreds of years, has most certainly had its share of misinterpretation and casual use. For example, William of Ockham (the spelling of his name varies) didn't write things like "keep it simple", though his theories could be interpreted down to that essence in our modern life.
The meaning of Occam's Razor is that it doesn't do us any good to multiply entities unnecessarily. So, we shouldn't bring up more things than are necessary to offer an explanation of something. Some people interpret that as the idea that the simplest explanation is usually the correct one, or that we shouldn't overthink things unnecessarily, or that we should adhere to a rule of Simplicity in all things.
As far as I'm concerned William of Ockham's main point was Ontological Parsimony. Parsimony is a much-maligned word, I cannot stand it when people describe themselves as parsimonious when they mean "thrifty" with money and resources. Parsimony means spareness, take the razor to an explanation and shave away the unnecessary bits, so that you can see clearly the meaning, make your inferences and work from there.
Of course Occam's Razor is an extremely influential principle in areas of logic, metaphysics, and mathematics. William of Ockham, in my view, just really wanted to distinguish between faith and reason: there can be no complicated arguments towards the proof of the existence of God, it has to be done on faith alone: Ontological Parsimony. What exists and what can exist? Put a spareness to the answer, shave away the complicated arguments, reduce it to what can be known and what cannot be known, what needs to be "known" by faith alone.
So how does this principle help us now?
As we sit in our homes confused about best practices, about what our life will look like in two weeks, or two months, and the advice and rumours and confusing data about the pandemic swirls around us, an approach that utilizes a certain spareness might really help us.
Our government is telling us to stay home, wash our hands, avoid contact with those not in our own households, and to take things day by day. It is a spare approach, it requires patience and a trust that these very simple measures will have the most profound effect.
It is a remedy to something unknown and terrifying that is simple, without a lot of complication to it, that is so basic it almost cannot be believed.
This is what is comforting my sleep-deprived brain today.
Other comforts? I'm cooking white beans for our dinner, and again today I watched our Prime Minister give his daily news conference (so thankful for this). I did my barre workouts this morning, I'll be disinfecting all of the doorknobs and countertops as soon as I'm done writing this, and I'll FaceTime my friends later today... with a big glass of wine.
How is your day going? Are you having trouble sleeping? I hope you're not.