Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Speaking Authoritatively

I wonder about speaking with authority. Both with myself and with other people.

I guess part of me misses the day of being a student and of speaking authoritatively in presentations, papers, and class discussions. It is fun to feel like you have studied something and can speak about it confidently.

But in the social world I'm not so into it. I wonder if I speak authoritatively. I admit that I live most of my life unconsciously, just doing things intuitively. So maybe I lapse into arrogant authoritative talking sometimes. But for the most part I try to avoid it.

I try to avoid it especially when it comes to social issues. When it comes to giving advice about hair cuts, or relationships, or anything really. When it comes to other people's personal matters I typically take a deferential and inquisitive stance. I ask people questions, I let them talk, I don't prescribe. At least I hope I don't. Or I try not to.

I forget exactly what I was thinking about when I had the idea to write about this.

I don't think I sit down and reflect on random things much these days. It is nice to just let myself think about something.

I think I was thinking about Alvin Goldman's book Social Epistemology. He writes on experts, and how we know who to trust or who to believe.

I find myself put off when people speak authoritatively about social situations. It is an interesting question how we know what people mean, how we know who to believe, how we know when advice is good or not.

I typically don't trust people when they seem confident that they have the answers to my problems. Maybe they do know what they are talking about. But for some reason I'm put off by people who are willing to prescribe action. My situation might be different than theirs, or they might not be accounting for everything. It is just strange.

Authoritative speaking. Whatevs. I'll try not to do it too much.

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