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The Symbol of Authority


D.C. Schindler


Presented at the CiRCE National Conference 2023.

This presentation will critique dominant understandings of authority and propose what seems to be a novel theory as an alternative. It will begin by exposing the shortcomings of the “pragmatic” reductions, in both classical and contemporary thought, of the meaning of authority in the order of praxis, as well as those of the usual interpretations of authority in the order of intellectual argument. In place of these, I will suggest that authority is best understood as having its place in the order of the beautiful, which is the unity of goodness (praxis) and truth (theory). The presentation will thus explain why authority is essentially symbolic, in the robust sense of the term as opening up the field of both thought and action, and is thereby radically different from mere power.