Rejecting authority

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Pineal, Dec 5, 2011.

  1. Pineal Banned Banned

    This came out of a discussion here...

    And these are some of the key quotes from lightgigantic that I disagree with.
    Though, I would like to add that I have not seen, or noticed at least, this way of formulating the idea, and I am grateful he presented it and in the terms he did. It clarified my thinking, in a sense gave me a label for something.

    Taking the medical example....

    I have known people who were being treated by conventional medicine and conventional medicine was something they never questioned. A couple of these people were given chemotherapy. At a certain point they decided, No, my body does not want this. It is wrong for me. I know this.

    They based this on a feeling/intuition and had no authority to support them in this. They asked for alternatives and were told this must be part of their treatment or they will die - by the doctors they were being treated by. They got second opinions, again within conventional western med. No new options.

    So they hit the internet and found alternative treatments, followed these are alive today long after they 'should' have died.

    Let me jump fields to religion...

    I see people move out of religions, sometime simply based on it feeling wrong to them, sometimes but not always combined with mental, formulated criticisms of the religions. These of course can be based on using another authority - another religion or religious leader to support their shift away - but I have seen people who shifted simply because of their own sense that something wrong (at least for them) was happening. And so they rejected the 'treatment' for their spiritual 'illnesses'.

    After this there may be gaps in time where they are floating, in pain even perhaps, yearning for something spiritual, but sure they do not want 'that one.'

    Then after the gap, they find something that does feel right and this takes on the role of religious authority for them.

    As far as I can tell this has worked for them.

    I have seen similar patterns in relation to psychiatry, again with another authority to approve and support the shift - if only via ideas.

    Note: I am not saying all cases of gut feelings lead to improvement, nor am I saying this in the specific case of rejection of authority. I am only arguing that it can take place and is an option that has helped people, even saved them. I am also not saying this is some easy thing or that everyone should do this. I am arguing directly against the notion that it must be the case and any moves like this are because of their category wrong or impossible.

    I reject this notion that one cannot make important decisions such as these and many others ONLY when we can get the implicit approval or knowledge of a new expert to replace the old one.

    I think this can happen quite often about perhaps less huge issues as the ones listed above, but also and validly even with those kinds of important decisions.

    I reject the notion that the only primary deep insight we can have is which authority to choose and after that we (should) just follow the rules.

    I have also seen cases where people negotiate with experts - doctors are a good example. IOW their own personal feelings and preferences end up affecting their treatments, leading their treatment process to be a combination of their ideas and those of the doctors - often not the doctors preferred or even recommended choices, and this has worked also.

    I find no reason to assume that I or anyone MUST only follow experts in any field.
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  3. Arioch Valued Senior Member

    To quote Tim Minchin "by definition, alternative medicine has either not been proven to work, or proven not to work. You know what they call alternative medicine that's been proven to work? Medicine."

    Yeah, there are alternative treatments that "might" work occasionally, but by far the majority of the time they wind up either doing nothing or killing you. Hell, some of them are the equivalent of swallowing placebos, at best, and are straight poison at worst.

    But I do have one question. Just what is a religious authority an "authority" on? What authoritative knowledge do they have?
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  5. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    lol gotta love the opening thread derailer straight off the bat at post 2
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  7. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    so they rejected authority ... and accepted another

    People reject authority all the time - my point is that if they're aiming to solve some problem/issue, rejection of authority will always be accompanied by accepting a new one (or in extremely rare cases, establishing a new one).

    EDIT - I guess there is a third example of acting like a mad artist and re-inventing the wheel just so one can pretend to be one's own authority, but that is really just mimicking an already existing one.

    An original idea. That can't be too hard. The library must be full of them. ~Stephen Fry
  8. Arioch Valued Senior Member

    @lightgigantic --

    Perhaps you're right, I should start a thread and then you can answer my question, but it does seem to be a related question.
  9. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

    Not really...if it's not patentable, no private company is going to invest the money in researching it.
    Natural stuff, or things closely derived from natural substances...are not patentable.
    The supplement market's big, but I don't believe the profit margin's anywhere near that of the pharmaceutical market.
    Some supplements do have supportive research behind them...but if you can find it, you'll generally find said research was done in Europe.

    Sorry, I've found a quercetin megadose invaluable for my allergies/asthma...and doctors look at me very strangely when I mention it. But if I miss a dose, I immediately get a stuffier nose and need to use my inhaler. Within 12 hours. So it works.:shrug:

    OTOH, if I had cancer, I would want them to nuke it or poison it as appropriate.
  10. Pineal Banned Banned

    Alternative medicine has a forum. (and while I did choose an example of someone shifting from mainstream medicine to alternative, it could just as well have been the other way. My OP is not trying to say Alternative medicine works, just that people do challenge their current authorities, in many cases without an alternative at hand or one to help them challenge the current authority

    yet, they move away from the current authority and are hold this position, even in the absence of authority. My specific examples deal with people who experienced this and then went on to accept a different authority whom they felt good about.

    Arioch could give successful examples of people moving from religion to science or herbalism to mainstream medicine and use such example to support my OP claim.)
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2011
  11. Pineal Banned Banned

    Yes. I know examples where they did not shift to a new authority, but the focus here is that they did not need another authority - except the message from their own bodies or their intuition - to get them to make the shift.

    Edit: I had an example where there no new authority, but I want to first see what LG meant.

    Again, not accompanied. There can be a large gap. I myself went through this. It took over twenty years for me to find an authority that feels right to me. There was testing during periods in this, where authorities were tried on for size, so to speak, but large periods without an authority.

    And my challenge to authorities was not based on other authorities. I had no expert to wean me of another.

    Or not.

    yeah, the old ideas have worked so well for this world and us. They need no improvement.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2011
  12. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    If they don't shift to an authority (or establish a new one) their problem remains unsolved (or they tried to address the problem with the wrong authority)
    If you are doing research you are looking around at different categories or ways to contextualize experience - aka authorities.

    Even if you locked yourself in a cave for 20 years you cannot write that off as an original idea

    Its been done before

    I'm talking about original ideas
  13. Pineal Banned Banned

    I think I mentioned that eventually they found authorities. And even specifically stated the same thing.....

    I could have added - 'They were sure, however, that going back to the old authority was worse, and perhaps this allowed, over time, a new authority to come.'

    The primary point being they did not need the aid of another authority to help them leave. Could you directly address this point, please. Do you accept that people can leave one authority without the support - conceptually, directly - of another and this can be part of a process where they find an authority that feels right to them?

    Though there are new ideas. Or, if you don't think so, what year did we stop having them?

    Me too.
  14. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    then they never really leave the whole authority thing

    I don't recall saying that they did require one to leave

    not anywhere nearly as many as advertised as such

    probably the moment we recognized as birth, death old age and disease being the primary challenges of conditioned existence

    problem is they are not original
  15. Pineal Banned Banned

    This specifically says they need to have some clue - some information - from some body of authorititative knowledge to leave.

    IOW they cannot simply on a gut level reject something and have this be the right choice, unless they already additional information from some authority.
    Again, I do not think this is correct. Pregnant women finding themselves eating chalk, and many animals will search out and eat specific plants when they are ill, despite having no medical authority to attend to. But beyond that the decision to leave one authority has been made by many, even though they do not know what will solve their problem or even if anything will. When we are talking about chemo and radiation, this can actually give one more time, in some cases, to find something.

    That I agree with completely.

    Well, that would take us back before Christ, so he added nothing new, nor has anyone else had new ideas, Da Vinci, anyone, since then?

    Such complete knowledge you have.
  16. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    thats about what is right for them - its got nothing to do with leaving - IOW the inner turmoil about conflicted interests can continue even under the umbrella of an existing authority without necessarily caving in
    why add "some authority"?
    any additional information = authority
    So instinct vs knowledge = what?
    so the search continues ....

    they have only taken existing ideas and refined or altered them

    If you stumble across anything new in the birth, death, old age or disease dept feel free to drop a line ....

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  17. Pineal Banned Banned

    without any information, just a gut feeling they don't want to do what the current authority suggests or a gut feeling the current authority is not for them. I have already said this. There is no authority, unless you want to consider, as I would, their own bodies/and or intuition as an authority.

    yes, I specifically said that. I specifically said that was the focus. Are you not reading carefully?

    I showed you quotes where you said people needed to have the authority present to leave.

    Are you intentionally being evasive here?

    Yes, I acknowledge they are still looking for answers and authority. I have made it very clear that my focus is on the idea that they do not have a new authority when they leave the current one.
  18. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    so you are trying to suggest that persons undergoing chemo are not aware of controversy or the pros and cons vs success rate or stories of people who have made it through without it?
  19. Pineal Banned Banned

    You can't answer a simple question.

    Nor acknowledge that you did in fact say that you needed an authority to leave an authority. When I point out you did and requotes I already used in the OP of this thread, you bring up the issue of them still being in the authority thing. Now you want to go back into specifics without

    1) having answered the question
    2) admitting you did in fact make the assertion about the must around having an authority to leave a current one.

    You are not treating yourself or me with respect.

    You are a being fucking head trip and what you are doing here fits poorly with either of our spiritualities.

    Seriously, there is something sadistic about how you post here. You used to be annoying, but not cruel.

    Fuck you. On ignore.
  20. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    I don't think you are even half as magnanimously liberal or open to discussion as you pretend to be
  21. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Then neither they nor the doctors were being accurate as far as the authority of conventional medicine is concerned.

    Namely, all treatments that conventional medicine suggests have effectiveness rates expressed in percentages, none of the treatments has a 100% effectiveness rate, and there is a small percentage of cases of spontaneous remission.

    Granted, not every doctor (or patient) admits this, but this is the statistical reality of conventional medicine.

    "Take this treatment or you will die" is not a valid statement for a conventional medicine doctor to make.

    Nor is it a valid statement for a patient of conventional medicine to say "I will take this treatment and then I will get well."

    What you are describing has nothing to do with intuition, or sensing "my body does not want this," nor with rejecting authority.
    It's a matter of how comfortable one is with the statistical effectiveness rates.

    It is when taking a medical treatment actually becomes a matter of a psychological/philosophical exercise of trying to equate 60% with 100% ("if I just try harder, I will see that 60% is 100%") that things start becoming absurd.
    I think many people engage in this exercise, although they might not be aware of it.

    There is on principle nothing in conventional medicine that would exclude such combinations.

    An essential factor of conventional medicine is that it presents results in statistical ratios, thus leaving a lot of leeway for combinations in making decisions about treatment for a specific person.

    The rest is up to the doctor's and patient's willingness and ability to negotiate those combinations.

    I think this willingness and ability for negotiation is key here when it comes to issues with authority.

    Namely, we tend to think of authority in terms of "I have to do as the doctor says, no discussion, and I have to believe it will work" ("and I have to feel bad, guilty and wrong for any opposition to the doctor").

    And indeed, many doctors and the administrative system itself of allowing 7 minutes per patient, are in favor of such a simplistic, blind acceptance of a doctor's authority.
    Such acceptance is not even adequate to the nature of conventional medicine.

    The adequate way of approaching conventional medicine is with the attitude "There is a such and such % (but not 100%) possibility that the suggested treatment will work for me," and ideally, both the patient as well as the doctor should have such an attitude.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2011
  22. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    I strongly recommend reading this article.

    From there (emphases mine):
    The term depersonalization has originally been used in psychiatry to describe loss of identity or of the sense of reality of one’s self. In a broader sense, ”to depersonalize” means to negate another person by ignoring his autonomy and his feelings or by treating him as an object, a thing. In an extreme form, inmates of the concentration camps in the Second World War experienced depersonalization. As Subhananda dasa points out, depersonalization can occur in a spiritual context (even in the context of such a decidedly personalistic theology as Vaishnavism), when in the name of spirituality, followers are led to discard their self-trust along with the capacity for self-determination and self-evaluation. In other words, one becomes spiritually depersonalized by granting to a spiritual guide (which can be a person but can be a belief system as well) an absolute power to decide what one is, what one should think, feel, and want. ”To this someone may counter with ’But if the guru is qualified then one may blindly follow him.’ No. If the guru is qualified, he will not encourage blind following in the first place. A guru is not one who dictates to us what to think. A guru teaches us how to think.” [xiv]

    A spiritually depersonalizing belief system implicates the follower in logical vicious circles in which one is never right unless the wielders of authority say so. Challenging the official authority is explicitly defined as wrong, so that the content of the challenge does not deserve to be even examined. An individual who has accepted such a logically closed thought system forgets that all of this is only valid if his initial decision to trust this particular person or teaching was right – and if it was, this means that he does have an independent capacity for judgment. Depersonalized devotees see their doubts as possessing a separate existence (”demons”) and disown unaccepted desires by seeing them as implanted in their mind by fearsome outside forces (Maya or other devotees acting as her agents). What this sort of ”disowning tactics” does is it gradually destroys the sense of personal participation, with one’s thoughts, emotions and volition, in anything at all -- even in acts of worship and prayer. The devotee pushes away his unaccepted experiences and so much pushes himself to feel what the authority says he should feel that by doing so, he destroys his capacity for any spontaneous, profound experience – including love for Krishna. All that is left to him is a hope that if he grits his teeth and perseveres against all odds, at the moment of death his present personality will be destroyed and he will wake up in the spiritual world with a brand new identity, no connection whatsoever between the two. This is not an exaggeration; I have seen all too many devotees with this attitude.


    Fanaticism usually stems from fundamental distrust toward one’s own thoughts and feelings. Stifling them results in a state of inner numbness, where the individual no longer knows what he wants and feels. In an attempt to give his life some order and meaning, he may try to supplant his lost “inner guide” with the voice of external authority. For such a person, religious authority with its claims to absolute truth has a deep appeal. [xxiii] His surrender tends to be fanatical and blind, since he has discarded his capacity for critical evaluation. Actually, however, such surrender is not as unconditional as it appears; the person would ignore or distort, for example, teachings on emotional literacy or self-reliance, as they undermine his coping techniques. (ISKCON devotees working in communications know the frustration of trying to talk common sense to persons like the one described in the above story.) His “radar” picks up selectively on those teachings that can be used to justify blind following, self-abnegation, and hurting others.

    Distrust for one’s inner experience is something no one is born with. In fact, young children in a healthy, loving environment are rather at the opposite pole; they fully trust and indiscriminately follow their feelings. In the process of socialization and individual maturation this attitude gradually evolves into a more balanced one, but the basic ability to trust oneself remains. How does the religious fanatic get to the other pole? It can so happen that a person with a balanced attitude toward his inner reality joins a manipulative religious group in his search for a higher experience. By spiritually abusive preaching, compounded by the influence of unhealthy group dynamics, he learns to distrust himself. (How this happens and what it leads to is described in more detail by Bhaktavatsala dasa.) In other cases, however, the damage is done long before the person joins a religious group.

    Manipulative religious leaders do not have the monopoly on promoting spiritual abuse. Heavy responsibility lies with the first authority figures in the individual’s life – the parents. Alluding to the notion that cults break up families, Rabbi E. Friedman remarked: “Cults don’t destroy families; families breed people for cults.” [xxiv] Families that don’t model a balanced, emotionally literate attitude toward one’s inner experience (e.g., conflicted families or authoritarian families where the child is shamed for his feelings) breed adults who can’t deal with and are threatened by their own feelings. Such persons will try to push them – or some of them – out of awareness. However, feelings often signal needs or offer vital information, therefore ignoring them causes further difficulties and more threatening feelings. It’s a downward spiral. [xxv] Because such persons fear their feelings, they will deny them any value and may seek to alter them through chemical means (through alcohol, drugs etc.) or to control them through a rigid belief system. This pattern – compulsive use of religious activity almost like a mind-altering drug to control one’s inner pain instead of facing and resolving it -- is called religious addiction.
  23. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    What do you mean by "authority"?

    What implications does "someone having authority" have for you?

    What are the defining factors of your relationship with an "authority"?

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