Volume 86, Issue 3, Summer 2012
William of Ockham
Ian Christopher Levy
Authentic Tradition and the Right to Dissent
William of Ockham and the Eucharist
As a young bachelor of theology William of Ockham found himself under attack for—among other things—views he had expressed regarding the Aristotelian accident of quantity and the related question of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist. This essay focuses on Ockham’s conception of academic freedom as it was articulated in defense of his own position. Against fellow schoolmen who mistake their own magisterial opinions for settled Catholic dogma, Ockham insists on the latitude that is afforded scholars in matters that have not yet been definitively determined by the Roman Church. Hence when it comes to the precise alignment of the eucharistic accidents, until such time as the Roman Pontiff hands down an official determination, Ockham contends that he is under no obligation to yield to the pressures of envious academics. The younger Ockham, who pointedly refrains from accusing his opponents of heresy, simply asks that they would exhibit the same restraint.