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Presented at the CiRCE National Conference 2023.
In this presentation, I will make three arguments: first, that symbols are best understood as holding authority rather than power; second, that symbols are not just devices deliberately used for the express purpose of communicating a particular meaning, but are realities that are so fundamental to human existence as to be woven essentially into every aspect of that existence, to the extent that it is human, from the words we speak to the tools we use, to the basic institutions of our culture. This implies, finally, that authority, far from being mere a “regional” or episodic phenomenon of social life, concerns the very stuff of human existence.