Feb 10, 2011


"Authority" does not mean to be a king or to be an emperor or general, to have the power of arms, to be a bishop, or to be a policeman,* but it means by a firm and conscious resolution to be willing to sacrifice everything, one's very life, for his cause; it means to articulate a cause in such a way that a person is at one with himself, needing nothing and fearing nothing. This infinite recklessness** is authority. True authority is present when the truth is the cause. The reason the Pharisees spoke without authority, although they were indeed authorized teachers, was precisely that their talk, like their lives, was in the power of seventeen finite concerns.

*In margin: This is the conception of immanental authority, not the paradoxical conception of authority.

**In margin: Those with authority, therefore, always address themselves to the conscience, not to understanding, intelligence, profundity — to the human being, not to the professor.

— Kierkegaard

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