Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

At which point in history did the human start challenging authority?

  1. Nov 10, 2003 #1
    umm, it's just that in the past it wasn't like that... A person was not even considered the same way that we consider persons today. People were not individuals, but part of a big mass, of a town, a country, and the only people that mattered were the kings and leaders, etc.
    Across the centuries, life got easier, the feudalism collapsed to be replaced by ______________ (by what?) and people became independent with that (?)
    ... does anybody has a real clue of what events caused the concept of 'self' to develop? I recall reading that Christianity helped shape the concept of individual souls, but there must be more factors that shaped that concept of self.
    Moreover, when thinking about "when did people start defying authority?" is there an earlier event that shows revolution, other than the French Revolution?

  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 10, 2003 #2
    Yet to Challenge

    I don't think humans have developed that ability yet. We're less individuals today than at any time in recorded history. Thats why we are numbers (Social Security, Defence serial numbers, Tax File Numbers etc.). Its a rare Westerner that REALLY challenges any existing authoritative structures. If they do, strange things start to happen very quickly.
    Anarchy is still a dirty word.
  4. Nov 10, 2003 #3
    yeah, it's true to some extent that we are made believe individuals... we are educated to behave certain ways, follow conventions, etc. But for example, I have always been exhorted at school to think originally and expose my points of view.
    I think there are like 2 faces (maybe there are more?) for society. The one that teaches to be moral (education at home and school) and the one that goes against it... the friends making fun of authority as i said before, and for instance, advertising, always exhorting one to break the rules, to be original... by buying some product that everyone else wants to buy.

    "It's a rare Westerner that REALLY challenges any existing authoritative structures. If they do, strange things start to happen very quickly."...

    umm, who challenged who in the East or wherever u are talking about?
  5. Nov 10, 2003 #4
    My dad wrote a poem when I was young. It goes something like this-
    In the beginning, God created man. God then walked with man…until man created the wheel and roared out of sight.
  6. Nov 10, 2003 #5


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Challenging authority and individuality are not necessarily dependent on eachother. Under feudalism, it was usually illegal to learn a different profession than your father. Now, it is quite possible to be what you want to be without defying authority.

    Paradoxically, two of the early institutions that allowed free advancement based on merit, rather than birth, were the Roman military and Mandarin bureacracy. These were two of the most conformist organizations in history.

    Most defiance of authority came from those near the top - those in a position to usurp. I don't think those are what you're after. The oldest widespread common uprisings against power that I can think of would be the religious uprisings of the late dark ages. They espoused many different ideas, free-love, socialism, abolishment of property, abolishment of currency. If you want to know more, read Umberto Eco's "The name of the rose"

  7. Nov 11, 2003 #6
    We have more resources to be free more then ever. Yet many do not seek pure freedom because they cloud them selves with materials. Although our population is growing so much that we need more cites. Christianity is what made North America because it was Christian Europeans that took over Native American land. But not all people are tied to religious beliefs.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook