chapter  2
10 Pages

Philosophy and authority: passion in ambivalence


Psalm 111: 10 states that ‘the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’.1

The German philosopher G.W.F. Hegel (1770-1831) reworks the negative and religious overtones of this statement around an experience of philosophical learning that brings power, mastery, and authority face-to-face with their opposites. In doing so, Hegel offers those charged with leadership in education an education in the philosophy of leadership. Specifically he offers a way of learning from and about the ambivalence of authority on its journey to-and-fro between certainty and doubt, conviction and pragmatism, and between the formal and the personal. In sum, I argue that this philosophical education commends one not to seek to resolve this ambivalence but rather to embrace its truth.