Authority (from Latin auctoritas – judgment, advice, pattern) – in the history of philosophy an ethical concept, meaning the recognized influence of a person or writing on the life of others, closely related to the notion of medieval authorship. The principle of creationism, which is the basis of the Christian worldview, assumed the author of being. They were God, who announced the world he had created in the Holy Scripture, or the Bible, which was thus a book of authority. The texts of the Bible were carriers of the Truth and therefore were used as a means of verifying any philosophical and theological teachings and as a collection of examples for a correct life. Authorities also relied on saints and persons whose writings were sanctioned for study, commenting and education (the lives of saints, treatises, messages, prayers of the fathers of the church). This means that, apart from Scripture, Tradition was considered to be an authority. Understanding of the Tradition in different faiths is not the same (in Catholicism it includes the patristic heritage before John of Damascus, in Orthodoxy it is not limited to time frames). Among the revered texts were also worldly authorities – poetic, logical, philosophical writings of ancient pagan authors, who were recognized as harbingers of the Christian faith. These included Plato (primarily Timaeus), Aristotle (originally “Categories,” “On Interpretation,” from the 13th century – “Physics” and “Metaphysics“), Virgil, Ovid.
The establishment of authority is closely connected with the historical (genealogical, chronological), commentators’ attitudes of the medieval believing mind, whose main task was to receive the Divine Truth. This attitude to authority was because in the first centuries of Christianity a special order of thought arose, oriented towards antiquity, holiness, and correctness, and therefore, authority. The early fathers of the church (Clement of Rome, Ignatius the God-bearer, Polycarp of Smyrna), following the apostles, began to create a genre of epistles, which played a great role in the Middle Ages in the form of edification, exhortations, parables, in which ethical maxims were formulated in connection with the idea of salvation, correct life, which later became ecclesiastical ordinances of baptism, the Eucharist, confession, and prayer. The necessity of these carefully prescribed procedures was not proved, but it was shown that in fact, they justified their authority. Any evidence based on inferences, in the face of the inscrutability of truth, is an unreliable source for knowing God. Reliable is, as Tertullian believed, only that source, which can be referred to as “evidence of meaning, origin, succession, and proof of judgments” (Tertullian, On the Testimony of the Soul). This is tradition because it can not be fictitious by one person, but there is something belonging to all. The keeper of tradition is the soul of a person who speaks. The soul allows the unreflected use of the words of ordinary language such as “what God will give,” “if God wants,” “God will judge.” Statements of this kind turn any soul into a witness of its divine origin, for it openly and freely points to the name of God. The soul thus understood allows one to judge authorship as well. In this sense, she is a prophetess, an interpreter of signs, a seer of events. It is the first authoritative stage of knowledge granted to man by God. It mediates all subsequent steps. The authority of the soul “speaks” in any composition. Since in it the soul speaks, which is close to God by nature, it is necessary to trust in one’s own, and even more so the divine works, because the Scripture chronologically arose earlier than other creations.
Reliance on authority is not the result of blind faith in dogmas or other church prescriptions. On the contrary, it was possible to find a reasonable answer with his help. Since the truth relied on this and that which was preached, the Christian mind initially, as Augustine said, “clapped” to her, was communicated to her. The human mind was a believer in a reasonable divine reality, and faith was reasonable. For medieval intellectuals, authorities were a way of testing their reason for the correctness of their constructions, judgments, conclusions, which could, among other things, challenge and criticize the authorities themselves. This circumstance did not at all diminish the idea of authority emanating from the traditionally rooted tradition of thinking and acting.
The collapse of “authoritative” thought began in the 13th century when, with the influence of Averroism and Aristotelianism, the truth split into the truths of reason and the truth of faith. The mind has since begun to lose its definition of a believer, and faith ceases to claim the title of a reasonable one.
Authority in the modern sense implies respect, dignity, significance in any field of life.