№ 3, 2019
The article is devoted to the problem of political authority that is viewed as a fact of a social reality. The author regards authority as a sociopolitical institution rooted in the biological nature of a human being and evolving throughout the history. The article suggests a framework for a holistic theory of political authority and highlights four stages of its development. The first stage is (political) authority in its pre-human version. These are the forms of leadership generated by the need to solve the functional problem of cooperation among social animals and imply a mobile structure that is based on trust in the leader and is responsive to changes, rather than a rigid hierarchy. The second stage is the emergence of a functional replication of the “animal authority” within the first human communities, formation of the institution of authority and its mergence with religious ideas, the emergence of faith in supernatural agents and supernatural punishment. The third stage is the development of political authority as a religious authority, which led to the establishment of the institution of delegating power from someone who lacks physical properties — God, Gods or state as a “mortal God”. The fourth stage is the demystified political authority, which is established in a secular modern society, but retains some elements of its predecessors. According to the author, such an empirical approach to understanding political authority opens up a possibility, among other things, to solve some problems of normative theories, allowing a clearer understanding of the role of authority in the political life of a society.
№ 1, 2019
The article is devoted to the supernatural punishment hypothesis elaborated by Dominic D.P.Johnson, Professor at the Oxford University, and a possibility of applying this hypothesis to Political Science. The essence of the hypothesis is that religion and belief in gods improve human cooperation and form a basis for altruistic behavior. Johnson views people’s ability to believe in the “supernatural agent” who is watching them and who will surely punish them for their sins as the evolutionary meaning of religion. The author provides a detailed analysis of Johnson’s concept and demonstrates its unequivocal scientific importance, but at the same time he pinpoints its weaknesses such as data interpretation and adequacy of using the terms “religion”, “altruism” and “group cooperation”.
The author proposes several alternative explanations of the evolutionary meaning of religion and considers it from the meme theory perspective. According to his conclusion, if altruistic behavior is indeed natural to human beings at the biological level, then an institution of religion can be viewed as its higher form, but not its cause. In order to make both positions in this scientific debate clear, the author invites metaphors of symbiosis and parasitism for describing relationships between a human being and a belief in a supernatural agent (religion). Johnson’s hypothesis deserves close attention and scrutiny as an argument in favor of the “symbiosis” metaphor. However, one must use it with caution, admit its limitations and avoid oversimplification of a highly complicated model of the human sociality that inevitably includes religious consciousness.
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