The Constitution of No Authority

Rather, a husband exercises authority over his wife in a different way because he shares that authority with his wife and allows her to participate in his own deliberations, taking her judgment and advice into account. The husband’s rule is comparable to political rule because he not only rules, but is also ruled; he does not make all of the important decisions on the basis of his own deliberation alone, but engages in cooperative deliberation with his wife. The wife exercises a degree of rule over her husband because her own deliberative contributions can shape the decisions that are the source of the household’s collective actions.

David J. Riesbeck, Aristotle on Political Community, p. 152

Average conversation in the Khawaja-Bowles household:

Irfan: I don’t think we should let Hugo go out on the deck unattended.
Alison: Who cares what you think? Right, Hugo?
Hugo: Meow.

Hugo remains on the deck unattended.




18 thoughts on “The Constitution of No Authority

  1. What reason do you have for not wanting Hugo on the deck unattended? Just curious.
    We don’t let our cat outside unattended. There are too many deer, possums, raccoons, foxes, red-tailed hawks, big owls, and feral cats that come near the house.


    • What reason do you have for not wanting Hugo on the deck unattended? Just curious.

      For fear he might jump off it. It’s one floor up, and the deck has a railing a cat could fit through. Alison insists “he’s not that stupid,” but I prefer not to test his IQ. Assuming he survives the fall, he then faces wildlife, and assuming he survives them, he faces our cat-hostile HOA.


  2. Reduced to the deliberative contribution of a potted plant! However, I suspect that, Hugo, despite his deliberative handicaps and inability to speak (let alone issue orders), is the ultimate source of authority in your household.


      • Most of the essential features of a cat are psychological, not anatomical: ingratitude, narcissism, diurnal lassitude, nocturnal hyperactivity, and unfailing punctuality about feeding times. Hugo has all of those. Hence….

        If something does all that, and meows, it’s a cat. Even the meowing is pretty much superfluous. The right kind and quantity of ingratitude, etc. will do the trick. Alison tells me that when she was a kid, she cut the whiskers off of her cat’s face, but a whisker-less cat is still a cat. Likewise an excessively whiskered one.


  3. Augustine: So tell me this. We often see wild animals dominated by human beings – that is, not merely the animal’s body, but even its spirit is so subjugated that it is enslaved to human will by habit and inclination. Do you think it could somehow happen that a wild animal, however ferocious or strong or cunning, could in turn try to subjugate a human being (even though many wild animals are able to destroy the human body either by sheer force or by a surprise attack)?

    Evodius: This cannot possibly happen.

    On Free Choice of the Will


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