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A Metaphysics of Psychopathology$
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Peter Zachar

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780262027045

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262027045.001.0001

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Literalism and the Distrust of Authority

Literalism and the Distrust of Authority

Chapter:
6 (p.84) (p.85) Literalism and the Distrust of Authority
Source:
A Metaphysics of Psychopathology
Author(s):

Peter Zachar

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262027045.003.0006

This chapter begins by examining a unique feature of modernity – the public expression of skepticism about authority paired with the private realization that it is difficult to know what (and who) to believe. It is claimed that this modern condition is shared by both conservatives and liberals. Based upon some clues from anthropological work on literalism among conservative evangelicals, a variety of authority structures in both religious and academic communities are explored. These include self-styled prophets, self-taught experts, credentialed experts, and innovators. The chapter ends with an accounting of the extent to which everyone has to rely on communities and recognized experts to know what to accept, and how this psychological fact raises the worry that we are all trapped, not so much behind a veil of ideas, but within the boundaries set by our chosen community's beliefs.

Keywords:   Literalism, Authority, Expertise, modernism

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