Meditations on Authority

This volume, the first in the Notebook Series of the Martin Buber Society of Fellows, addresses the notion of authority in a set of multi-disciplinary and inter-cultural perspectives. The essays share a meditative quality, perhaps more accessible than the usual academic format would allow: a great mathematician reflects on the kind of authority mathematical truths can (and cannot) claim; historians explore shifting forms of institutional authority in different historical contexts; a linguist probes the authority implicit in the use of the second person singular in modern Hebrew oral narratives by soldiers serving in the territories; a political scientist offers an unsettling account of the largely fictive authority implicit in democratic systems and the role of science in rationalizing that authority; and so on. Many of the essays embody or give voice to the ambivalence endemic to issues of authority, which habitually arouses inner protest and resistance that can become authoritative in their own right. Wide-ranging, irreverent, and often highly personal in tone, these essays reflect the rich conversations and the sheen of intellection at the Martin Buber Society of Fellows.

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Martin Buber Society of Fellows Notebook Series