Medieval thought

The great disrupter: how William of Occam overturned medieval thought

Astonishing where an idea can lead you. You start with something that 800 years hence will sound like it’s being taught at kindergarten: fathers are fathers, not because they are filled with some ‘essence of fatherhood’, but because they have children. Fast-forward a few years, and the Pope is trying to have you killed. Not only have you run roughshod over his beloved eucharist (justified, till then, by some very dodgy Aristotelian logic-chopping); you’re also saying there’s no ‘essence of kinghood’, either. If kings are only kings because they have subjects, then, said William of Occam, ‘power should not be entrusted to anyone without the consent of all’. Heady stuff