Today we talk about Ockham’s Razor, a book by Ricardus Sapiens published with our publishing house Europe Books.
Europe Books had the pleasure of interviewing the author Ricardus Sapiens to get to know him better, where he found the inspiration to write his book Ockham’s Razor, as well as how he briefly explains the meaning of OCKHAM’S RAZOR.
Below you can find our interview. Take a seat and enjoy your reading!!!
- Where did you find the inspiration to write this book?
The inspiration to write OCKHAM’S RAZOR came, in the first instance, a number of years ago after reading a short essay by Leo Strauss titled “Note on the plan of BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL”. In that essay, in paragraph 35, there is this: “Nature, we may say, has become a problem owing to the fact that man is conquering nature and there are no assignable limits to that conquest. As a consequence, people have come to think of abolishing suffering and inequality. Yet suffering and inequality are the prerequisites of human greatness”. Laurence Lampert in a penetrating interpretation of Strauss’s essay titled LEO STRAUSS AND NIETZSCHE provides a comment (pp. 104-5), this: “Strauss’s essay has shown that nature has become a problem because of the conquest of human nature in a very precise sense, namely, elimination of one of the two natural types. The . . . conquest of nature is only a means, if an indispensable means, to the achievement of the ideal of the large majority, universal comfortable self-preservation, which makes the other type expendable.” It set me thinking, in no small part because I found myself agreeing with the analyses of the two men. The result is the book.
- What is the message you want to send out to your readers?
‘Message’ is not a word that immediately comes to mind as something that the book is intended to provide, or the reader to consider. There is no message as such. The book is a presentation of ideas given in a narrative/dramatic form in an effort to imbue them with a relevance, vitality and context that readers can hopefully respond to in a sympathetic way. That the reader may disagree with what is presented (or even the way in which it is presented) is taken for granted. But that it may stimulate further discussion and investigation and thought is high on the list of desiderata for this book and perhaps ‘stimulation’ a more appropriate signification than ‘message’ for what the book is intended to provide. The students’ efforts to make sense of their own thinking, to give it structure, unity and a three dimensional reality – albeit in ‘the theatre of the mind’ (that wonderful individualized, multifarious thing provided by our imagination): this does not require consent but recognition and a studied sympathy; above all, respect for the attempts at independence and bona fide honesty – this is their ‘mental health’ on the line! – of the students.
- Can you briefly tell us what is the meaning of OCKHAM’S RAZOR?
I have found the following to be a succinct definition of ‘Ockham’s Razor’: “The principle of parsimony or economy evident in the nominalism of William of Ockham (c.1285-1349): entities not known to exist should not be postulated as existing unless absolutely necessary to an explanation of the phenomena. Unnecessary entities should be erased (hence ‘razor’). The usual wording, in Latin, of the principle is Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem (‘Entities are not to be multiplied beyond necessity’), but this wording does not actually occur in Ockham’s writings.” (Collins Dictionary of Philosophy, ) In terms of using the phrase for the book title, it was chosen for the following reasons:
- It captures the essence of what the students arrive at in regard to the ideas that are embodied in the stories/tableaux they devise: philosophy is art, truth is illusion; and vice versa, art is philosophy, illusion is truth.
- ‘Ockham’s Razor’ emphasises the students’ desire to reduce their findings to something very simple – three words, one of which is the ‘copula’.
- It encapsulates the means used to arrive at the state of affairs formulated while retaining the maximum of significant meaning.
- How would you describe your writing style?
There is great economy in the use of ‘direct speech’ as the means of presenting an imaginative piece of literary work. The greatest of all writers, Plato, chose to write in ‘direct speech’ in the end, in preference to ‘reported speech’, for his famous dialogues. Prose can be lazy, flaccid, turgid, “prosaic”. Direct speech gives the sense of the immediate present and the full realization of it. The spoken word has life! – The students want to do philosophy for life! OCKHAM’S RAZOR is a story within a story, a dramatic narrative ‘layered’ within a dramatic narrative. Layering is part of the style too. Conrad and Anna / Velleius and Diocles / Calpurnia and Ennius Scaevola / Maria and Maric. These are all pairs of principal characters from the four stories making up the book: the ‘dual’ – perhaps a Greek thing, but another aspect of style. Always part of the writing style – contrast, a species of contest.
- Are you already working on a new book?
I have been working on another book since completing OCKHAM’S RAZOR. It is called MORE LIMPID THAN THE DAWN and consists, again, of four short imaginative pieces in ‘direct speech’. They are variations on a unitary theme, in some ways similar to OCKHAM’S RAZOR but very different. I am not a formulaic writer. Two of the pieces in the new book are studies of the renowned academic and poet Christopher Brennan (1870-1932) tracing his rise to fame and fall into abject poverty and degradation through alcoholism. A brilliant man by any standard, his story is little known even in Australia and quite unknown elsewhere. The other pieces are adaptations of two of the late tales of D. H. Lawrence. As mentioned, all are in ‘direct speech’, my preferred medium. That book is also finished. I am now working on an opera with a libretto adapted from the short story ROAD FROM COLONUS by E. M. Forster. The chances of a performance are absolutely minimal. The satisfaction in writing it is perhaps something only another creative person can understand: in the words of Diotima and the mouth of Socrates, and from the pen/stylus of Plato “begetting on the beautiful by means of the body and soul” as it were. I have also written an orchestral work recently: PANDEMIC, 2020.
Europe Books thanks the author Ricardus Sapiens once again for taking the time and answering our questions. We are really pleased to have walked alongside him on the editorial path that led to the publication of his book Ockham’s Razor. We wish him the best of luck for his book and for his future works.
To you, my dear reader, may the author’s ideas, here presented, be easily understood by you all and that they are of interest and of stimulation for further discussion and reflection.
So, my dear reader, all I have to say is to enjoy your reading!