I always wondered why Occam’s Razor was named such. With the name of the thinker or philosopher, I understand, but why ‘razor’? It bothered me but not enough for me to check the explanation for that. The wikipedia explanation I checked was:
“In philosophy, a razor is a principle or rule of thumb that allows one to eliminate (“shave off”) unlikely explanations for a phenomenon, or avoid unnecessary actions.”
That’s pretty interesting but I think it is important to recognise the nature of such conceptual ‘knives’ more significantly. We all weld some kind of knives in our minds and these are what allows us to make statements like ‘There are two kinds of people in this world’. These conceptual knives allows us to use various concepts, which can be abstract ideas, to slice the world up. Of course not the physical world, but the one that is reconstructed in our minds. Almost like a twin of the world but not quite (notion of a ‘digital twin’ is a useful analogy for this).
And by applying the knives to the world, we are able to develop ideas farther and dissect matters far more than we can do if we just physically try to cut things up or separate things. When we make decisions, apply filters, screen things, select goods and services, choose people to hang out or events to attend, we are welding our mental knives.
In the physical realm, we ought to be careful whenever we are holding some kind of knives. Especially sharp ones; and it is usually the sharp knife that performs its function best. But along with its function, it can also have potential to cause harm. The same can be said for our mental knives. So are you welding it carefully?
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