Notes on Authority V

  • Authority seems to be a part of love or a species of love. Political authority is a moral power that binds men to certain ends. The end of political authority is nothing other than the common good. It is an authority over another and authority is ordered to the good of the other. The moral power comes precisely from the common good, because it is to will the good of the other as other. But this is nothing other than love.
  • Authority binds to raise something to higher ends. For this reason, the wise man has authority over the slave for Aristotle. The wise man knows the good to be done and the slave can do it.
  • Because political authority is essentially rational, it is not bound up in the sentimentality of love. A general commanding a man to fight to the death in battle is not sentimental. If the order is wise, which it presumptively is in virtue of his authority, the soldier is raised to a higher end. His fighting to the death is exalted to the common good of the war and the people. His obedience is a supreme virtue.
  • A political authority’s order is presumptively just and good in virtue of his authority. It is the role of the authority to order to higher ends and ends higher than a lesser man may know or understand. In virtue of this relationship, that is between the wise man and the servant or lesser man, the lower man observes the command as a superior good even superior to his understanding possibly.
  • All the more obligation falls upon the authority because of this. He is bound with the terrible duty of leading men to goods beyond their understanding. Should he fail through negligence or maleficence, the dread punishment upon him should be proportionately terrible.
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One Response to Notes on Authority V

  1. ZachN says:

    You might be interested in my blog, which deals primarily in authority:


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