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Authority is power given by the state (in the form of Members of Parliament, Judges, Police Officers, etc.) or by academic knowledge of an area (someone can be an authority on a subject).

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  • By liberty I mean the assurance that every man shall be protected in doing what he believes his duty against the influence of authority and majorities, custom and opinion.
  • Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.


  • All authority must be out of a man's self, turned * * * either upon an art, or upon a man.
    • Francis Bacon, Natural History, Century X, Touching emission of immateriate virtues, etc.
  • The peaceful transfer of authority is rare in history, yet common in our country. With a simple oath, we affirm old traditions and make new beginnings.
  • Authority intoxicates,
    And makes mere sots of magistrates;
    The fumes of it invade the brain,
    And make men giddy, proud, and vain.
    • Samuel Butler, Miscellaneous Thoughts, line 283, as reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 47.


  • In Amazon societies, women were mothers and their society's only warriors; mothers and their society's only hunters; mothers and their society's only political and religious leaders. No division of labor based on sex seems to have existed in such societies. Although Amazon leaders existed and queens were elected, the societies seem to have been...ones in which any woman could aspire to and achieve full human expression.
  • I think it only makes sense to seek out and identify structures of authority, hierarchy, and domination in every aspect of life, and to challenge them; unless a justification for them can be given, they are illegitimate, and should be dismantled, to increase the scope of human freedom.


  • There is no greater mindlessness and absurdity than to force conscience and the spirit with external power, when only their creator has authority for them.
    • As quoted in "The Transylvania Journey" by Rev. Michael McGee (25 July 2004), and in Whose God? and Three Related Works (2007) by Benjamin C. Godfrey, p. 61
  • Autoritätsdusel ist der größte Feind der Wahrheit.
    • Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.
    • Ferenc David Letter to Jost Winteler (1901), quoted in The Private Lives of Albert Einstein by Roger Highfield and Paul Carter (1993), p. 79. Einstein had been annoyed that Paul Drude, editor of Annalen der Physik, had dismissed out of hand some criticisms Einstein made of Drude's electron theory of metals.


  • It's utterly incomprehensible to me how someone could say we don’t need a teaching authority of the Church. If we have five Bible scriptures and 18 opinions regarding them, who is to determine? Either it's the fact that My intellect is better than yours; I've studied more than you; I can persuade better than you can; I'm more passionate than you that makes my opinion win over yours. Or we have a teaching authority that says, The rule book says this is how you settle this issue.
  • Authorities ... are where they are only because God is allowing them to be there. They exist only at his sufferance. And if God is willing to put up with...the Roman Empire, you ought to be willing to put up with it, too. There is no indication God has called you to clear it out of the way or get it converted for him. You can't fight an Empire without becoming like the Roman Empire; so you had better leave such matters in God's hands where they belong.
    • Vernard Eller, Christian Anarchy: Jesus’ Primacy Over the Powers (1987)
  • Auctoritas siquidem ex vera ratione processit, ratio vero nequaquam ex auctoritate. Omnis enim auctoritas, quae vera ratione non approbatur, infirma videtur esse. Vera autem ratio, quum virtutibus suis rata atque immutabilis munitur, nullius auctoritatis adstipulatione roborari indigent.
    • For authority proceeds from true reason, but reason certainly does not proceed from authority. For every authority which is not upheld by true reason is seen to be weak, whereas true reason is kept firm and immutable by her own powers and does not require to be confirmed by the assent of any authority.
    • Johannes Scotus Eriugena (815 – c. 877) De Divisione Naturae, Bk. 1, ch. 69; translation by I. P. Sheldon-Williams, cited from Peter Dronke (ed.) A History of Twelfth-Century Western Philosophy (Cambridge: CUP, 1988) p. 2.






  • Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?


  • You can delegate authority, but you can never delegate responsibility for delegating a task to someone else. If you picked the right man, fine, but if you picked the wrong man, the responsibility is yours—not his.
    • Richard E. Krafve



  • This my dear friend is the one truly great contribution of my Wonder Woman strip to moral education of the young. The only hope for peace is to teach people who are full of pep and unbound force to enjoy being bound--enjoy submission to kind authority, wise authority, not merely tolerate such submission. Wars will only cease when humans enjoy being bound.
  • I set up a simple experiment at Yale University to test how much pain an ordinary citizen would inflict on another person simply because he was ordered to by an experimental scientist. Stark authority was pitted against the subjects' strongest moral imperatives against hurting others, and, with the subjects' ears ringing with the screams of the victims, authority won more often than not. The extreme willingness of adults to go to almost any lengths on the command of an authority constitutes the chief finding of the study and the fact most urgently demanding explanation.
  • Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority.
  • Both political Parties, and the remnants of Liberalism as well, stand bound by the great vested interests of "Right" and "Left" which created them. In Opposition, there is the same profusion of promise; in office, the same apathy and inertia. In post-War England,their creeds have become platitudes; they consistently fail to grapple with the problems of the time. Their rule has led, with tragic inevitability, to the present chaos. Therefore our Fascist Movement seeks on the one hand authority as the basis of all solid achievement; we seek, on the other hand, progress, which can be achieved only by the executive instrument that order, authority and decision alone can give.
    • Oswald Mosley, The Greater Britain, 1932. Quoted in Joel H. Wiener,Great Britain: the lion at home: a documentary history of domestic policy, 1689-1973: Volume 4, 1974. Chelsea House publishers, New York. Also in Walter L. Arnstein, The Past Speaks: Sources and Problems in British History, Lexington, Mass. : D.C. Heath, 1993.




  • Officium officialium, quorum te numero aggregasti, hodie est, jura confundere, suscitare lites, transactiones rescindere, innectere dilationes, suprimere veritatem, fovere mendacium, quaestum sequi, aeqitatem vendere, inhiare exactionibus, versutias concinnare.
    • The role of officials today is to upset the laws, to stir up lawsuits, to annul agreements, to devise delays, to suppress the truth, to encourage falsehood, to follow profit, to sell justice, to attend closely to exacting money, to practise cunning.
    • Peter of Blois letter 25, to the Judicial Vicar of the Bishop of Chartres, in J. A. Giles (ed.) Petri blesensis bathoniensis archidiaconi opera omnia (Oxonii: J. H. Parker, 1846-7) vol. 1, p. 91; translation from Walter Bower and D. E. R. Watt (eds.) Scotichronicon (Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press, 1987) vol. 7, p. 61.



  • To modern educated people, it seems obvious that matters of fact are to be ascertained by observation, not by consulting ancient authorities. But this is an entirely modern conception, which hardly existed before the seventeenth century. Aristotle maintained that women have fewer teeth than men; although he was twice married, it never occurred to him to verify this statement by examining his wives' mouths. He said also that children would be healthier if conceived when the wind is in the north. One gathers that the two Mrs. Aristotles both had to run out and look at the weathercock every evening before going to bed. He states that a man bitten by a mad dog will not go mad, but any other animal will (Hiss. Am., 704a); that the bite of the shrewmouse is dangerous to horses, especially if the mouse is pregnant (ibid., 604.b); that elephants suffering from insomnia can be cured by rubbing their shoulders with salt, olive oil, and warm water (ibid., 605.a); and so on and so on. Nevertheless, classical dons, who have never observed any animal except the cat and the dog, continue to praise Aristotle for his fidelity to observation.


  • Shall remain!
    Hear you this Triton of the minnows? mark you
    His absolute "shall"?
  • Thou hast seen a farmer's dog bark at a beggar,
    And the creature run from the cur:
    There, thou might'st behold the great image of authority;
    A dog's obeyed in office.
  • Those he commands, move only in command,
    Nothing in love: now does he feel his title
    Hang loose about him, like a giant's robe
    Upon a dwarfish thief.
  • But man, proud man,
    Drest in a little brief authority,
    Most ignorant of what he's most assur'd,
    His glassy essence, like an angry ape,
    Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven,
    As make the angels weep.


  • Punitis ingeniis, gliscit auctoritas.
    • When men of talents are punished, authority is strengthened.
    • Tacitus, Annales (AD 117), IV. 35.
  • Authority forgets a dying king
    Laid widow'd of the power in his eye
    That bow'd the will.
  • I do not allow a woman to teach or to usurp authority over the man.
    • 1 Timothy 2 v 12.







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