On authority

This idea of authority – and especially authority in matters of truth – is false and misleading.

Even on the level of a boss being over you at your workplace. His authority over you is borrowed from you. You have to at every command he gives deliberately choose to obey him.

Sure there may be repercussions to you not obeying him; like you’ll lose your job but you chose to take the job.

There are repercussions to not having a job; like losing your house and so on. All these though are things you have taken upon yourself. You could live like a tramp… the tramps do. There are even people who choose that life.

So what stops you from choosing it? That you don’t like it? I bet you do plenty of things that you don’t like to do all the time.

Have you noticed how malleable your preferences are?

Anyway on matters of truth authority is especially inane.

There may be instances where you go to someone for information. Say you have a project to complete in a limited amount of time and there is an area within the project that requires information from a subject with which you are unfamiliar.

That isn’t so much what I’m getting at but even there you are judging whether you trust the other to be honest and competent. Plus it’s only for a small thing, a bit-part for something bigger.

Even here if you’re wise you would interrogate who-ever you are getting the information from so that you understand it. That is to say so that you can be more certain of its veracity and efficacy.

When someone says you have to take what they say on faith it generally means that they don’t know what they are talking about or that they have some nefarious intent behind what they are telling you.

The fact is that if someone else can be an authority then so can you. It may take patience and a bit of work to understand a thing but those attributes are things that can be put into practice by anyone and you know – don’t you – when you understand something?

Until that flash of cognition occurs don’t you stumble around in uncertainty even if you are following orders?

It’s like playing a game. You can either figure it out yourself or use a manual.

Even with the use of the manual there is a feeling of uncertainty because you don’t get the inner logic of what you are doing. But once you do get it you know it and walk forwards with a sure foot.

With all the big questions in life such as “Is there a god?” and “How should I live?” there is a surplus of time to ponder them. There is more than enough time in a year let alone a life time to settle these questions for yourself without the need for authority. In fact even a short time and a brief survey of the literature on those questions will destroy your esteem for authority.

It’s a short step, but a long journey of letting go, from there to a place where you exchange authority for seeing!


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