William of Ockham was a philosophical nominalist. William of Ockham sought to undermine papal authority through his dealings with the Holy Roman Emperor Louis IV of Bavaria.
Martin Luther was a philosophical nominalist. Martin Luther sought to undermine papal authority by appealing to the princes of Germany.
Thomas Hobbes was a philosophical nominalist. Thomas Hobbes sought to undermine papal authority by placing ecclesial authority in the arms of the state (see Book IV of Leviathan for details).
Here’s the question that I have been pondering. Is this a coincidence or does nominalist thinking lead its adherents to shake off the shackles of ecclesial authority? Is this a historical accident or is there a true connection?
My suspicion is that nominalism creates an epistemology of angst. It drives one to sacrifice balance for an extreme position.
Whether it be Ockham’s razor, Luther’s faith alone, or Hobbes’ absolute statism; each nominalist “solution” rejects communal consensus. If one rejects communal consensus, then one cannot truly believe in ecclesial authority, because the church is necessarily common.
In fact, in one is not a realist, then one cannot believe in true participation in any metaphysical sense. And if there is no participation there is no such thing as “being in communion”. It’s all fractured.