TWENTY WAYS OF ESTABLISHING FROM EXTERNAL BEHAVIOR A PRESUMPTION THAT A PERSON IS A HERETIC CHAPTER 7 ~ WILLIAM OF OCKHAM
TWENTY WAYS OF ESTABLISHING FROM EXTERNAL BEHAVIOR A PRESUMPTION THAT A PERSON IS A HERETIC
Disciple I do not want particularly to pursue that way of convicting of pertinacity because I do not hear that those who are now engaged in controversy attribute any such thing to each other mutually, nor does anyone [of them accuse] any other. You have, however, referred to one thing which I want to be explained because it will be beneficial perhaps to many [problems], in that it can be applied, it seems, to many kinds of heretics. For you said that if someone were to know what books the church regards as integral to the New and Old Testament and yet, notwithstanding this, were to say that any one of them does not belong to the New or Old Testament he should be judged immediately as pertinacious and a heretic and he should not be waited on [to see] whether, once corrected, he would be ready to correct himself but he should be held at once to be incorrigible. For I wonder about this last point, how such a person should be regarded at once as incorrigible; for he who can be corrected is not incorrigible; but such a person can be corrected; he should not be regarded, therefore, as incorrigible.
Master In the judgement of many people you have said truly that what you seek is beneficial to many [problems] because some people try to prove a great deal by an explanation of it. And so it is said that just as "impenitent" is taken in two ways - in one way for him who can not do penance, in another way for him who has no intention of doing penance - so "incorrigible" is said in two ways: in one way, he who can not be corrected - and in this life no one is like that, especially if he is not insane - and in another way he is said to be incorrigible who has no intention of correcting himself, although he can be corrected. Everyone incorrigible in this way should be regarded as pertinacious. Consequently such an incorrigible person can be called pertinacious, contumacious, obstinate and hardened. It is not, therefore, as you take it, that he who can not be corrected is incorrigible; rather many are incorrigible who have no intention of correcting themselves although they can, nevertheless, be corrected; and often those who are incorrigible are corrected, because no one who is incorrigible should be wholly despaired of in this life, just as no one who is impenitent should be despaired of as long as he is alive.