What is authority: definition, meaning

This article will touch upon such a “quivering” topic as authority today. What is this very status in society? What does it mean in our life? To begin with, we give it a definition. Authority is a special social significance that individuals, public institutions, social groups, organizations receive due to their specific qualities or functions. All this is optional.


The concept of authority can be considered in the context of significant objects and abstract entities (for example, texts, teachings, ideas, belief systems, etc.).

personality authority

Regardless of its nature, the one whopossesses authority, owns a set of properties, functions and qualities inherent in him, which have received wide public recognition and do not need constant confirmation and proof.

What is authority? Types of authority

Traditionally, there are two forms of authority:

  • formal (determined by the administrative position of the subject or institutional status);
  • informal (due to the personal qualities of the subject).

There are also distinguished authorities in various spheres, hence such notions as spiritual, moral, political, religious, scientific, etc. authority.

authority is power

All these varieties can have both rational and irrational nature and be embodied in special social phenomena (public leadership, spiritual leadership, government, capital, entrepreneurship, and others).

Meaning of the word authority

There are several variations regarding the appearance of this word. For the first time, if you believe the history, in ancient Rome, the importance of authority was expressed in the power of the Senate, which distinguished it from other government bodies.

The phenomenon of authority is expressed in that the person possessing it is able to influence the thinking or actions of other people without any direct coercion to such changes. Thus, this means that authority transforms its carrier into an object that can influence society or exercise power in its person.

This happened historically: a person who is limited due to circumstances with the ability to independently solve large-scale problems gets used to relying on the opinion of a higher person who trusts or sympathizes.Sometimes the complexity of reality pushes people to take everything on faith, because they themselves may not have enough time or energy to understand cause-effect relationships. However, on faith are accepted only those requirements and claims of the carrier of authority, which can be clearly and structuredly substantiated by him.

what is authority

They may not have a good base, but, for example, a good preparation of the speaker for his speech is already a guarantee of victory, because sometimes it’s not the fact itself that is important, but the ability to “tasty” present it to the public.

Ethics and Philosophy

What is authority from ethical-philosophical point of view?

authority concept

This is, first of all, a category that fixes a social connection and interaction of a certain type - a changing form of social influence and manifestation of power through the subordination and coercion of individuals in all spheres of their activity: feelings, thoughts, actions in accordance with established installations and norms.

Historical Forms

Historically, there are three main forms of this concept:

The development of the forms and attitudes of authority, in general, are closely connected with the historically determined attitudes of public consciousness. In ancient times, moral authority dominated.In the Middle Ages, this dominant was replaced by the attitudes of the believing mind, whose highest task was expressed in communion with the Divine truth.

In religion

The principle of creationism underlying the Christian worldview suggested the author of all Being, the so-called Almighty God, who told the world about the world he had created through Scripture, or the Bible, which served as the written authority of those times. Dogmas and biblical texts were not questioned and were considered the ultimate truth, therefore, by referring to the Bible, a person could literally assure his actions. Also authorities considered saints and authorities endowed by God himself. It is their statements, moralizing, and example that were imputed to society for imitation and admiration.

This authority, that in the Middle Ages, that in our time takes place, therefore we can say that it was initially aimed at creating a certain system of thoughts, which is focused on the search for truth, correctness, holiness and, consequently, credibility.

authority of authority

In addition, reliance on authority was not the result of a blind faith in church ordinances or other dogmas.On the contrary, this authority, as it was believed, should have led people to seek a reasonable response. The truth was given and proclaimed, which means that the Christian mind, according to St. Augustine, simply “clung” to it through the sacrament of communion.

Faith was by no means stupid, it was taken for granted, reasonable and authoritative. Medieval intellectuals used authorities as a test of their own reason for the correctness and appropriateness of their own judgments, constructions and conclusions, which could, moreover, criticize and challenge the authorities themselves, which in no way diminished the importance of the idea of ​​authority growing in the traditional world view.

Evolution of meaning

Since the 13th century, truth has been divided into the truth of faith and the truth of reason. This moment becomes a turning point in the history of religion: faith can no longer claim to be rational, and reason itself shies away from conventional dogmas.

With the advent of the New Age, philosophy, beginning with Hobbes, denies spiritual and religious authority and emphasizes the importance of moral authority, which is based on rational knowledge.The English and French Enlightenment quite convincingly substantiates the authority of reasonable law. Such an authority, which is based on the idea of ​​freedom of individuality, was later trampled upon moral authority in favor of the autonomy of the will.

Philosophical "debates"

Immanuel Kant made a significant contribution to the reassessment of thinking, thanks to him the transition was made from thinking in the category of good to thinking in the category of values ​​that are the result of human activity - will and goal-setting.

what is authority

IG Fichte believed that obedience to authority is a thankless and “unscrupulous,” as he himself put it. Friedrich Nietzsche attributed this phenomenon to the slave worldview. In Russian historiosophy, the role of a personal moment in the creation of spiritual authority was highlighted. According to V.S. Solovyov, external authority is necessary as a passing moment, but it cannot be perpetuated, that is, to recognize its final and final form. N. A. Berdyaev made a clear distinction, pointing out the opposite of the values ​​of social authority and the authority of conscience. I. A. Ilyin in the discourse on spiritual authority,He associated it with the authority of the authorities, which implies religious confidence of the people, independence from foreign trends, and strong-willed character. The postclassical philosophy of the 20th century includes an autonomist (any authority is denied, the principle of an individual’s absolute freedom is asserted) and authoritarian (priorities of authority carriers are highlighted) tendencies.

Authority today

Modern political philosophy considers this concept as a necessary condition for all power and its power.

authority categories

Formal typology of power M.

Related news

What is authority: definition, meaning image, picture, imagery

What is authority: definition, meaning 21

What is authority: definition, meaning 74

What is authority: definition, meaning 10

What is authority: definition, meaning 29

What is authority: definition, meaning 81

What is authority: definition, meaning 66

What is authority: definition, meaning 87

What is authority: definition, meaning 15