authority

"Anyone who conducts an argument by appealing to authority is not using his intelligence; he is just using his memory." - Leonardo da Vinci

"Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence. —Leonardo da Vinci

"There is only one side —mine. —Shawn Hartnell


Authority is a mechanism which bypasses the critical thinking of less critical thinkers. Day to day, less critical thinkers are more influenced by authority than more critical thinkers — however, in the end we all default to some kind of authority to help build our model of reality. See: belief, faith, Milgram Experiment

For example, how do you know the earth is round? How have you deduced this for yourself? Chances are, you've just taken someone's word for it. However, unless you're planning on doing something that depends on the earth being round — you're not really going to care one way or the other. We easily accept authority influence in matters which do not matter.

The mechanism which responds to authority evolved during a time when cooperative, coordinated, tribal organization was required to survive. The instinctual response to authority by sub-ordinate members ensured that the group could act as a team in such situations where spears, arrows, or rocks were being thrown at everyone's head. Even though we don't encounter these kinds of situations in modern life very often (unless on active duty in the military), we still have the instinctual urge to follow authority.

Types of Authority

Motto Power Respect Archetypes
Competent I know more / better than you. competence, ability utility, admiration mentor, role-model
Social I have the power. Stay in line. power, social status fear, intimidation, humiliation, obedience dictator, drill sergeant

The Authority of Authority

The thinking underlying the influence of authority is: The authority says it is so, therefore it must be so.

An authority can be defined as 'someone who knows more than you do', which has it's own special implications for portraying authority.

The quality of authority can be developed as a cue.

Authority by Proxy

Authority can be a person which you speak to directly, or something written or created by an authority, such as a video or book (bible).

Cases Like The Bible

In cases like the Christian bible, the authority of the source (ie, God) is seen as immortal. Actually, it's just because the authority itself has no life. It's a written work.

See Also

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