Marco Dorantes' WebLog

"Computer science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes" -Edsger W. Dijkstra

Good intention alone

Good intention alone

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Often I hear phrases or calls, on the part of people in a hierarchical position in an organization, such as the following examples. I listen to them either directly or endorsed by such persons:

"By questioning we are open to critical positions that allow us to filter what we must preserve and discard what is obstructing us"

“It is necessary a profound study of the Bible in order to understand it and to get something practical out of it”

The intention behind seems to be very good, flawless, when considering the phrases in isolation. If authority would consist only in having good intentions and to wish good for others then there would be no need of hierarchical authorities, since almost everyone is able to hold good intentions and publish calls of goodwill. The idea of authority requires more solid foundations to substantiate the power, faculty, or the implied legitimacy. It could be the case that no one is saying that good intentions and calls of goodwill are sufficient to pursue the idea of authority. However, maybe it is exactly what is being said by means of unconscious behavior. Let me explain:

Central verbs in the preceding phrases are, respectively, to question and to study profoundly. The phrases seem to want to persuade us of the positive of such actions. But such positive effects, respectively, to filter and discard, to understand and practice, are based on the assumption that the audience, indeed, know how to carry out such central actions. If the call just assume that we know how question, how to study deeply, but not is supplemented with the means so that the audience can introduced itself into the essence of such actions, then this is the case of an authority with little foundation.

So, who is in a position from which to exhort others, you will need to first identify the assumptions of the appeal, and then, provide means by which those assumptions are indeed true for such audience.

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