Sir Thomas Browne Quote

“The mortalist enemy unto knowledge, and that which hath done the greatest execution unto truth, has been a preemptory adhesion unto authority.”

~ Sir Thomas Browne

Religio Medici, 1642

Ratings and Comments

Robert, Sarasota

Yes, Yes, how sad that it has caused so much tragedy - our blind acceptance of authority is a crime and is the cause of our nations current predicament.

Mike, Norwalk

As the 'comrades' would have it, all religions competing with their authoritative priesthood (government) would be done away. The knowledge and wisdom garnered from all religions would also be a threat. The quote is fairly accurate on its face. The once sovereign has been preempted by the adhesion unto the authority of the once represntative.

Anonymous, Reston, VA US

The key phrase seems to be "preemptory adhesion unto authority", with the key word being "preemptory", which seems to indicate that not all "adhesion unto authority" is bad, just that one should "question authority", eh?

Ken, Allyn, WA

Quite right, Mr. Anonymous from Reston. It is easy to automatically defer to authority. It takes no thought and it is never punished.

Waffler, Smith, Arkansas

We should never be preemptory. But as we learn in later childhood to "stop asking why, just do it and don't ask questions!", we learn even later that we live in an interdependent world and build on what has gone before. Trust and verify, trust and verify should be our watchword. We do not always have the luxury of verifying first. I give it a five because I agree we should never preempt our options.

jim k, austin

As to authority, it's often better to beg forgiveness than ask permission.

J Carlton, Calgary

Blind obedience is manifest ignorance of all patriotism and responsibility.

E Archer, NYC

Yes, Reston, question authority. You know something is wrong when you are told "just do it, don't ask questions, everyone does it, now do it!" When we treat custom as 'common knowledge' we have indeed lost real knowledge. Every time someone tells us that we need permits or licenses to carry on with our everyday lives, we have the right and duty to question all so-called authority on its face. That goes for religion, too. The entire premise of public or religious schooling is to condition us to the pre-emptive authority of church and state, truth be damned.

RKA, Wasilla, AK

Knowledge begets truth, truth begets enlightenment. Authority, be it religious or political, are always trying to make sure people are not fully enlightened, because if they are, in their waking eyes, they would question. Questioning an authority is the most cardinal mistake one could make, well of course, we are the credence void of any light. I wonder, how easy it is then that the founders of any religion or faith or any governmental institution are always in this quest to suppress information.


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