“Anyone who conducts an argument by appealing to authority is not using his intelligence; he is just using his memory.”
The above quote, by Leonardo da Vinci, reflects something that was somewhat brought to my attention during the movie The Words. If there are writers who muck around in the mire of anonymity have good things to say but are restricted by the system of fame in society, how many have previous generations been blind to? Many times, those of us who are more obscure in the eye of society come upon diamonds of knowledge and insight, and a select few of us choose to write about those diamonds; however, our words are like feathers, holding no weight because we lack prior authority in our speech. And where does this authority come from? It comes from cleaving to society’s desired perception of itself and what it wants to see in terms of progressive thought. There is only so far that people can go in terms of developing new and interesting thoughts before society is either bored, annoyed, or uninterested with what they have to say.
However, in the classroom setting, I often find that what my peers have to say is far more interesting than what philosophers and great thinkers have to say; it may be due to the bias of my position as a student with regards to the material at hand. However, writers who are my contemporaries, who also have their own musings upon certain topics of great interest to me, delve into things such as romance and conflict in greater depth and with deeper insight.
Thinking more upon this topic, I realize that it could be borne of a personal pride in the force of my own thoughts. By elevating the work of those around me, I myself elevate my own position. However, I still believe that seeing the name of a person shouldn’t influence our enjoyment of his thoughts; how enslaved to society do we make ourselves if we only pay heed to the name and not the quality of his content? This is not to discount the accomplishments of those who are recognized by society because there is certainly some merit in what they do in order to gain society’s respect, but it is a way of bringing to light the possibility and existence of great thoughts that are not, perhaps, in the mainstream. My use of da Vinci’s specific quote was a kind of irony; in that great name, he recognizes that his points shouldn’t be accepted based on his name, but by virtue of reasoning and understanding.