Thanks for raising an important question about authority in Ken’s post on Thinking about Freud. Where is authority coming from? Who is looking for authority? As human, were many ambitious people (the great leaders) in history looking for authority, power, wealth, fame? Or may be not all of them! Where had they all gone?
As a Catholic, I could sense the struggle one might have with all those formal terms – authority, power, accountability, responsibility and above all leadership etc. throughout our life-long learning. What do they actually mean in our learning in networks and groups?
So, you are not alone in the quest for why – in response to authority in networks, in groups, in formal communities, and why you don’t like it, and that you wish to understand more about it, from a philosophical perspective.
That’s the fundamental question we always like to ask about authority and power as mentioned in my previous post on Discourse Ethics.
I don’t think I could answer your questions, as it seems to be beyond any human to understand the nature of authority, and why human has that innate nature of power seeking, once one becomes the leader. May be that is part of our genes, or our evolution, for survival, and to collaborate as a group or cooperate as a network, in order to thrive.
This paper on Varieties of Participation in Complex Governance by Archon Fung provides some insights on authority and power. Rather than focusing on power and authority centered around single authority, should we be moving towards empowerment, participation, shared decision making and democracy, in case of complex governance in the 21 st century?
So, authority and power might appear differently from that of the last century, it may have to be decentralised and shared amongst the networkers, especially if we want to help and support our next generation to thrive in the 21st century. Refer to this article on Shared Leadership for a framework on shared leadership in education.
From my religious point of view as a Catholic, the only absolute authority that’s worthwhile to explore and conform to fully is our Creator – God and Jesus. Human is by nature an authority seeking Homo Sapiens, and so may not deserve our “adoration” after all!