Permission To Ramble…

You’ve got to keep your guard up, haven’t you, against ‘taking authority as the truth, rather than truth as the authority’.

On a few levels authority is open to scrutiny; in a subjective vein you have to ask: what is the content of the course completed in order to obtain the position as an authority? And then, conceptually, is there such as thing as an authority not able to exercise power? And power not based on authority? There are both. Sometimes we are unconvinced by those with an official standing, and on occasions we are persuaded in spite of their official position. These are types of fact, I would say, but I don’t know whether they’re analytic or synthetic or a posteriori, or all three are up there…

…Permission To Digress…

…as words which might be applicable to the nature of truth at an ontologically sophisticated nexus of rational comprehension. I must be talking intuitions. The philosopher Immanuel Kant coined all this stuff (I use the word ‘stuff’ since I know no more general inquiry than this), however impenetrably for students such as myself, in the mammoth text Critique Of Pure Reason. I heard it referred to as ‘Orgasm’ by a Greek lecturer at Leeds University, however I never got that far; once having read, I don’t know, one hundred pages or so, I struggled. It primes the mind for taking on complex concepts, their resolvability or non-resolvability into alternative or more basic concepts. Here’s one: ‘a priori’ confers a status of being true irrespective of investigation through experience; I don’t want to start an argument, but…certain statements are known a priori due to their logical shape, e.g. X Therefore: X. Others are mathematically a priori, e.g. : 3 + 3 = 6. There are definitionally a priori statements, such as: the mahogany tree is made of mahogany wood. The Critique is a bit like playing snooker prior to a pool match; the next book you take on will seem a lot easier to read. It’s something you could find a lot of excuses to avoid.

It’s like building a shed when there’s a shelf needs fixing.

Judging from what I’ve experienced, if one wanted to become an authority on metaphysics, contemplating the complexity plus depth of the ‘concepts’ (if Kant would permit this phraseology) discussed in the Critique Of Pure Reason is intensive training to that end.

Back En Route

An authority is elevated as such because he or she better understands the processes involved in, the skills required for, or the organisation of, an organisation. This is the only authentic source of authority: understanding or knowledge. There may be coercive means, but these don’t authorise the status held. They safeguard it. Ultimately, authority can only justifiably be granted by those subject to that authority, and on the basis of a measure of wisdom held concerning the post. The superiors have to ‘know better’. If it were supposed that authority is not part of a reciprocal process, it must continue up and up, and where does it end? With one official dude at the very top of a global hierarchy? ‘Course not. The buck goes back to you with your consent, and is nevertheless part of a two way process; it’s a viable contract, so long as the authority’s status is based on a demonstrable ability to exercise superior judgement on the matter in hand.

If an authority on the matter tells you it is so, you might be persuaded by good sense to follow their advice, but does the claim to be in a better position to judge have integrity? It’s a bit like truth; substantiation is key. If we accept the language of ‘authority’ into our lives in a way which de-evolves the concept to mean ‘power’, and use the two terms interchangeably, we will find it difficult to avoid the misconception that power is a form of authority. Power, the ability to get your way, doesn’t validate an official position. The imperative: ‘No rambling!’ might be more effectively imposed if its contravention invokes a penalty, but this has little bearing on the genuine state of affairs as regards your right to ramble. It’s any man’s land. Although, there might be a bull in an adjacent field, and you just had your warning.

If authority is recognised, it shouldn’t really be necessary to use methods of enforcing it. That’s part of the reason, I suppose, we should question authority, ask them why? Who? What? so we can establish to our own satisfaction the authenticity of the claim to ‘control’.

Authority should constantly be put to the test to check her validity. She walks hand in hand with power, however power is more powerful than authority. Authority has permission to serve, or run as adjudicator. Power is a club, in the hands of an authority. A government which is pro global-demilitarisation is a smarter government, I would argue, and a truly authentic democratic society is one whose government is intelligent enough to persuade people without the need for violence. Power is a phenomenon; authority a man-made construct. We don’t like unfettered power anywhere, but we can cut pure authority a lot of slack; she has won her spurs, and can walk, run or ramble as far and wide as the field will allow. See licence below.





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