1. Hmmm . . .
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    31 Mar '07 02:291 edit
    Someone recently suggested that I have a problem with authority—not for the first time in my life! It might well be true.

    But, then again, I might well ask such a person by what authority they make such a claim, or on what authority should I accept it? And if they say “A,” then I might ask, “And on what authority ought I to accept A’s authority in this matter?” And so on. But I do not think there is an infinite regress here.

    I was brought up with a lot of emphasis on “respecting authority.” One might say it was ingrained in me from a fairly young age. Over time, I learned that the practical meaning of “respect” was to obey, or to accept whatever a person claiming authority, or designated authority by others, asserted. Teachers, for example, elders generally. Sometimes, authority seemed simply to mean the ability to punish. Other times it referred to someone having a superior body of knowledge than I did.

    And I was generally quite obedient—that is what I was taught.

    And “respecting” authority also meant that one did not question that authority—at least beyond certain bounds, which the authority itself would generally declare.

    So, I learned not to question authority. Was this a “problem with authority?”

    A slave obeys his master. That is to be expected if the master has the ability to punish the slave, if the slave is powerless against such punishment. And perhaps the slave has been convinced to accept some other kind of authority, that says it is somehow in the natural order for the slave to be a slave, and the master a master. But what would we say when the slave begins to worship the master? Would we not wonder why? Might we not wonder if the slave has been brainwashed?

    Later, I began to question authority. This was not easy (perhaps never has been easy) for me, because it went so counter to the cultural matrix which I had absorbed when young. I might, with “fear and trembling,” begin to question this authority or that authority—but I still suspected that there must be some authority somewhere, that would tell me what was proper to believe or not to believe, to question or not to question. Some authority whose claim to authority was obvious and beyond all reasonable question.

    Now, at this point, someone might say, “God.” But what god? Whose god? No god, for example, has spoken to me in a way that it was beyond reason to question if this wasn’t something going on in my head (and I don’t have so paltry a view of the power of the mind that it could not be so). Some one says, “The God of the Bible” (or another putative revelation—I’m not concerned with the particular religion here, nor am I concerned with the existence of a god; I am concerned with this question of authority). And I say, “Why should I accept the Bible as an authority, on what or whose authority ought I to do so?”

    “Read it sincerely, and see.” I have. Sincerely. The question remains. “Trust what person X says. She is surely an honest person.” I do not doubt X’s honesty about what she believes; I question the authority bestowed by X’s honesty as opposed to Y’s honesty. Sincerely. The question remains.

    The question is: to what or to whom do you give the authority the tell you what the truth is—and by what authority do you accept their authority?

    Does this question show that I have a problem with authority?

    What exactly is a “problem with” authority?

    Some people, I accept, have a superior body of knowledge in certain areas than I do. In such cases, I accept their authority on that subject—pending my acquiring the requisite knowledge to mount serious questions, or seeing that someone else, who appears to have an equal knowledge of the subject, is doing do. Then perhaps I will hold judgment in abeyance: but on what/whose authority do I do so?

    Ultimately—my own. Regardless of whether and how I am convinced to make such a decision by others, and regardless of what authority I grant them in certain areas—ultimately, I grant even that on the basis of my own considered authority. If I have an experience that leads me to draw certian conclusions, on whose authority do I admit this experience as authoritative? My own.

    I think this is inescapable—for anyone. To whatever or whoever we grant authority, we do so on our on authority. To claim otherwise is self-deceptive. The self-deception might be quite innocent: one has not simply realized the fact of it. The self-deception might be purposeful (even if subconscious): an attempt to avoid the responsibility that goes with the authority.

    And that, I think, is the real “problem with authority”—that even our decisions to accept the authority of another, even in the light of convincing evidence, is ultimately made on our own authority. Even accepting what evidence there is as being somehow convincing, even accepting it as convincing because “everyone else” has done so.

    The basic decision, regardless of the matrix or ground or reasons under which it is made, is ours. Inescapably.

    As long as we have some ability to choose, even in the face of dire consequences, it is our own authority to make the choice that we finally cannot escape.
  2. Earth
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    31 Mar '07 03:08
    Originally posted by vistesd
    Someone recently suggested that I have a problem with authority—not for the first time in my life! It might well be true.

    But, then again, I might well ask such a person by what authority they make such a claim, or on what authority should I accept it? And if they say “A,” then I might ask, “And on what authority ought I to accept A’s authority i ...[text shortened]... nsequences, it is our own authority to make the choice that we finally cannot escape.
    [/b]
    That is of course true. But there are a number of variables that affect our decison to authorize a choice. These variables vary from person to person, and they are heavily guided by the experiences we have had in life.

    We are somewhat like a Chess computer that has thausands of games in its memory bank. When it has to make a move, it looks at all the games, finds similar situations, finds the move that had the largest number of wins associated with it and then makes its move. When we want to authorize the choice, we access our memory bank and make the move that "feels" right.

    But unlike a chess computer, winning means a totally different thing to each person. That is probably determined by the sum of our experiences also. One person may see a win in killing another person. Another person may see a win by giving his or her life for a friend.
  3. Hmmm . . .
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    31 Mar '07 03:23
    Originally posted by Varqa
    That is of course true. But there are a number of variables that affect our decison to authorize a choice. These variables vary from person to person, and they are heavily guided by the experiences we have had in life.

    We are somewhat like a Chess computer that has thausands of games in its memory bank. When it has to make a move, it looks at all the game ...[text shortened]... n killing another person. Another person may see a win by giving his or her life for a friend.
    That is of course true. But there are a number of variables that affect our decison to authorize a choice. These variables vary from person to person, and they are heavily guided by the experiences we have had in life.

    Yes, and the variables can shift to form new “decision matrices.” Awareness and attention are important.

    I like that phrase, “to authorize a choice.”
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    31 Mar '07 04:03
    authority sucks
  5. Earth
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    31 Mar '07 22:09
    Originally posted by vistesd
    [b]That is of course true. But there are a number of variables that affect our decison to authorize a choice. These variables vary from person to person, and they are heavily guided by the experiences we have had in life.

    Yes, and the variables can shift to form new “decision matrices.” Awareness and attention are important.

    I like that phrase, “to authorize a choice.”[/b]
    I'm glad we agree on this.

    Now this idea is meaningless unless it can be put to a practical use. How can we use this theory to explain all the crimes and all the wars that the world is currently plagued with?

    And once we explain it, how can we shift the "variables" to form "decison matrices" that takes the entire human race up to a higher level, eradicate crimes and wars, and ultimately bring about world peace?

    I would like to hear your ideas on this, even if you believe such a thing is entirely impossible.
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    31 Mar '07 22:55
    Originally posted by vistesd
    Someone recently suggested that I have a problem with authority—not for the first time in my life! It might well be true.

    But, then again, I might well ask such a person by what authority they make such a claim, or on what authority should I accept it? And if they say “A,” then I might ask, “And on what authority ought I to accept A’s authority i ...[text shortened]... nsequences, it is our own authority to make the choice that we finally cannot escape.
    [/b]
    Authority is authority independent of our recognition. We make authority our authority when we recognise that authority.

    Everybody wants authority.
  7. Hmmm . . .
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    31 Mar '07 23:04
    Originally posted by Varqa
    I'm glad we agree on this.

    Now this idea is meaningless unless it can be put to a practical use. How can we use this theory to explain all the crimes and all the wars that the world is currently plagued with?

    And once we explain it, how can we shift the "variables" to form "decison matrices" that takes the entire human race up to a higher level, eradicat ...[text shortened]... d like to hear your ideas on this, even if you believe such a thing is entirely impossible.
    Well, from my Eastern point of view, the root cause of the problem is illusion. One could say that my whole first post is aimed at a particular illusion.

    I, too, am susceptible to illusion, to falling into the old, habitual illusions again. “Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.”

    There are so many different moral theories. I don’t think it’s necessarily helpful, from a practical point of view, to keep arguing them. My own largely has something to do with what I call “recognition.” I am a human being subject to all the same existential questions that you are—hence, I recognize that we are, in a sense, in the same boat.

    I have a great respect for many religions and philosophies—and I cross the boundaries fairly easily (sometimes to the consternation of those who claim theirs is the “one right way” ).

    None of this is helpful, I realize. If you want to know generally where I come from, you might take a look at these two threads, in which I make a cumbersome attempt to synthesize a lot of my thinking (and experiences):

    http://www.redhotpawn.com/board/showthread.php?threadid=64959

    http://www.redhotpawn.com/board/showthread.php?threadid=65033&page=1
  8. Hmmm . . .
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    31 Mar '07 23:10
    Originally posted by josephw
    Authority is authority independent of our recognition. We make authority our authority when we recognise that authority.

    Everybody wants authority.
    Authority is authority independent of our recognition.

    Is it? Power may be power independent of our recognition, but I’m not so sure about authority.

    Everybody wants authority.

    And this may well be the problem of authority.
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    01 Apr '07 01:54
    Originally posted by vistesd
    [b]Authority is authority independent of our recognition.

    Is it? Power may be power independent of our recognition, but I’m not so sure about authority.

    Everybody wants authority.

    And this may well be the problem of authority.[/b]
    Then is authority forced upon us by whoever has enough power?

    Isn't an expert recognised as an authority in their field?

    Is the idea or concept of authority an illusion or an invention from someones imagination?

    Is authoritarianism created by control freaks?

    Does my recognition of a supreme authority cause me to be shackled to ideas that come from lesser evolved thought process?

    I think I could have worded that last question a little better, but I'm sure you know what I mean. 🙂
  10. Standard memberreader1107
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    01 Apr '07 02:39
    Actually I, too, was told once that I had a problem with authority. This was by someone with whom I argued. He didn't take too kindly to being argued with, and he believed himself to have authority. I didn't. My problem with authority in general stems from separating the person from the position. I have worked with people who were in positions of authority but were nincompoops. I learned that some people have earned their authority and respect and some simply got a job because no one else wanted it. I tend to argue more with the latter.
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    01 Apr '07 03:32
    Originally posted by vistesd
    Someone recently suggested that I have a problem with authority—not for the first time in my life! It might well be true.

    But, then again, I might well ask such a person by what authority they make such a claim, or on what authority should I accept it? And if they say “A,” then I might ask, “And on what authority ought I to accept A’s authority i ...[text shortened]... nsequences, it is our own authority to make the choice that we finally cannot escape.
    [/b]
    Interesting, and very astute which I always expect from you. I also have had a problem with authority. I have learned that authority and power are closely related. The saying goes, "adhere to the Golden Rule, whoever has the gold makes the rules"...but seriously for myself, I have found that "authority with love" is what I have found in God. I am comforted in this, and am fully persuaded, but I know this dose you no good...sorry...

    In the bible a duolos was a slave who was branded. He did this by choice because he loved his master. This branding was usually piercing the ear, and the slave would belong to his master for life, because the master loved his slave and vice versa.

    I am in awe about this dilemna of authority. It is a good point you make here because it helps me understand people. Since I believe Satan is the god of this world, as the bible says, and he has all this power, and is the father of deception, which by the way is another intersting dilemna. (If I am decieved, I have no way of knowing.) And niether does anyone else. So in the end I am at the mercy of divine intervention, if you will. I believe man needs input from outside of himself. I don't know if any of this makes sense, its late and I'm tired, so I'll stop rambling....

    🙂
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    01 Apr '07 04:49
    http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/bonethugsnharmony/letthelawend.html
    http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/bonethugsnharmony/bodyrott.html
    http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/bonethugsnharmony/down71thegetaway.html
  13. Earth
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    01 Apr '07 05:20
    Originally posted by checkbaiter
    Interesting, and very astute which I always expect from you. I also have had a problem with authority. I have learned that authority and power are closely related. The saying goes, "adhere to the Golden Rule, whoever has the gold makes the rules"...but seriously for myself, I have found that "authority with love" is what I have found in God. I am ...[text shortened]... know if any of this makes sense, its late and I'm tired, so I'll stop rambling....

    🙂
    And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
    10:5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.

    (King James Bible, John)

    This is regarding your point about being deceived and having no way of knowing. If you are His sheep, then you will hear His voice and you will know Him. Satan or whatever it is can not lead you astray.
    What would be the point of all this if we were unable to tell good from evil?
    This is however a wonderful doctrine, because it relieves us of all responsibility, which is why so many have come to believe in it. We are all sinner and there is nothing we can do about it. So just believe and continue sinning. Then someday the One will come down from heaven and take all who believed to heaven.
    Very convenient, but ….
  14. Donationbbarr
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    01 Apr '07 06:51
    Originally posted by vistesd
    Someone recently suggested that I have a problem with authority—not for the first time in my life! It might well be true.

    But, then again, I might well ask such a person by what authority they make such a claim, or on what authority should I accept it? And if they say “A,” then I might ask, “And on what authority ought I to accept A’s authority i ...[text shortened]... nsequences, it is our own authority to make the choice that we finally cannot escape.
    [/b]
    I also have been told I have a problem with authority. But, pace your distinction above, I have no problem with legitimate authority. I have a problem with anybody that would arbitrarily exercise power over me, or even do so paternalistically. I have no problem with experts, as long as I have good reason to think they are experts. This is really the point: I accept the epistemic authority of others just in case they have a good track record of providing me with good reasons (or if others that I trust vouch for them). But I'll generally cross-examine those who aim at "telling me the truth" about some particular domain. This shouldn't be seen as disrespectful. I, at least, take the giving and taking of reasons to be a sign of respect. I do this on my own authority, which is foisted upon me as the one who must ultimately choose to listen, believe, or act.
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    01 Apr '07 16:29
    Originally posted by Varqa
    And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
    10:5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.

    (King James Bible, John)

    This is regarding your point about being deceived and having no way of knowing. If you are His sheep, then ...[text shortened]... the One will come down from heaven and take all who believed to heaven.
    Very convenient, but ….
    My point exactly, well said....that is why I am thankful....but many Christians don't have this intimate relationship and I have seen many "shipwrecked" because of it. So it is best to stay close to the Lord Jesus..🙂
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