Ockham, Almain, and the Idea of Heresy

  • Takashi Shogimen
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


This chapter aims to shed new light on the impact of the English Franciscan and Oxford theologian William of Ockham’s (c.1285–1347) discourse about heresy on intellectuals of later generations. More specifically, I shall focus on the early sixteenth-century Parisian theologian Jacques Almain’s discourse about heresy and examine how he applied Ockham’s theory of heresy in both academic and polemical contextsIn my monograph on Ockham’s political thought, I elaborated on his sophisticated theory of heresy and its ecclesiological implications, thereby emphasizing that the theory of heresy was paradigmatic to his polemical activities.1 However, Ockham’s theory of heresy was not only central to his political thinking but also, in the context of late medieval scholasticism, highly idiosyncratic; it challenged the tacit assumptions underpinning contemporary discourse on heresy and heretics, and stripped it of hierarchical presumptions in a radical fashion. It is, however, not the primary purpose of this chapter to illuminate the novelty of Ockham’s discussions of heresy. Rather, the aim is to ascertain the degree of its influence on later generations by taking the example of Jacques Almain, who made explicit references to Ockham repeatedly in his works.


Sixteenth Century Political Discourse True Proposition Christian Faith General Council 
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© Karen Bollermann, Thomas M. Izbicki, and Cary J. Nederman 2014

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  • Takashi Shogimen

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