Origins of Authority

Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: & / Teaching / Society / Social Order / Authority /

We’re born into a world of authorities. Literature has been about authority from its birth: who made the world? and therefore owns the world? who made you? and therefore owns you?

For six thousand years or more there have been armies who’ll obligingly bash your head if you don’t agree that their boss is also your boss. It’s so ubiquitous through social human experience (pardon the redundancy: what human experience isn’t social?) that it seems natural. There’s daddy. There’s God. There’s the Pope. There’s Hitler. There’s US. There’s the kid who steals your lunch money.

Sure. If we make the world to be six thousand years old, it’s obvious: EVERYTHING is structured for and by authority. But what happens when a little science is allowed into the works? (None tried to get in till recently. None got in till recently. I doubt that much more science will get in: science and authority are incompatible: and authority has all the weapons (however precious few they could make these days without all the engineers working for the authorities). If we let a little science in, first a detail or two, then, suddenly, whole sections of our belief system fall away, like shale down the mountain. If Adam came six thousand years ago, how come Eve has been dated by genetic science at 150,000 years old? If Adam was created six thousand years ago, who made the twelve thousand year old arrow heads? the million year old ax heads? What are these Homo skulls we find that are two million years old? and older?

But those problems are minor once you find rocks that are four billions years old, life fossils that are nearly four billion years old … and things that sure look like life fossils from outer space?!

Literature, “history,” would tell us that authority is forever, from forever, for forever. What authority told the stromatolites how to form? The same authority that tells geese how to flock?

History, literature … authority … have everything backwards. Backassards. Bassackards. Inside out. Upside down. We’re told to learn morality from a church. Hell: morality is ancient; churches are new-born: merely six thousand years old.
Ah! Now we’re told to learn morality from the state. The state?! an entity that’s incapable of learning morality itself?!

No, no, no, no. Authority is clearly younger than mankind, younger than human society. Authority is clearly of human origin: propagated only by social humans (and what other kind are there?)

Science is recent. Science is new, young, inexperienced: should have its own allowance independent of states and taxes. (But then who would give the allowance to whom? Is there any reason to believe that the public could tell a scientist from a rock if it weren’t for Life Magazine?)
Science is related to human tendencies much older than science: making up origin stories, for example. We look at the cloud and decide that Hamlet’s camel made the universe.

Ah! But then we know to look for supporting evidence: and THEN! science learns to look for refuting evidence!

Hamlet was smart. Like Shakespeare. Like you and me. But Hamlet was not a scientist. You don’t have to be smart to be a scientist; you have to be willing to accumulate evidence — and to heed refuting evidence!

I remind myself of Ivan Illich’s point about certified expertise: whoever figured out that doctors should wash their hands before they cut you open may have been very smart, maybe smarter than all of the doctors who weren’t washing their hands put together; but once it’s figured out, you don’t have to be a certified expert to apply it: you don’t have to go to medical school or be licensed by the state to learn to wash your hands, and to insist that doctors wash before operating. Whoever figured out that cholera could be reduced in crowded cities by not running drinking/cooking water and sewage through the same pipe was very very smart, a genius. But once it was learned NO one has to be a genius to apply the knowledge.

Whoever inveted the theorem had to be very smart. Pythagoras was very smart to have invented his theorem about the hypotenuse. YOU don’t have to be nearly as smart to follow what HE figured out. Applying already discovered science takes sense, not intelligence. No one should need a note from their bureaucrat before they’re allowed to apply common understandings.

scuse me a sec: a qwik sketch of a target I’m aiming for: women become conscious of time thanks to human menses, women, thanks to the same, invented the word No, and with it the phrase “No, thank you.” THEREFORE men had to invent language: to lie, to promise, to seduce. But seduction is hard; power is much easier. Therefore, men had to invent political power in addition to inheriting physical power. Now the whole society would chorus with the bully, Shut up and take off your skirt.

the science comes from Leonard Shlain, and Geoffrey Miller

@ K. 2006 06 16

Social Order

About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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