...but not simpler
Catalogue essay by Shamim M. Momin


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“The title of Michael Genovese’s exhibition (Lines and Cracks and Zebras and Horses) draws in part on a colloquial aphorism — “when you hear hooves beat behind you, don’t expect to see a zebra” or “when you hear hooves beat, think horses, not zebras” — which typically is understood to evolve from the principle of Occam’s (or Ockham’s) razor. Attributed to the 14th century logician and Franciscan friar William of Ockham, the principle states, “Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate,” or “Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily.”

 Band Seam, Nickel Plated and mirror polished steel.

Band Seam, Nickel Plated and mirror polished steel.

Over time, this principle has been largely misunderstood to mean that as a general rule, in both science and philosophy, one should stick with the most “obvious” hypothesis or conclusion, as that is typically the correct one. In fact, what Occam proposed was a guideline to developing a theory, not a conclusion: the idea that when you have competing theories that make the same predictions/conclusion, the simpler is better. Importantly, the notion of simpler is not necessarily what seems most obvious (which usually includes one’s untested biases, preferences and predilections), but rather the one with the most observable elements (empirically testable), the fewest new assumptions.” Continue Reading ⍄