"If anyone will not acknowledge the force of reason, he must needs have recourse to authority. Michael Maier (Herm. Mus. II. 223)” --Whitall N. Perry, Huston Smith, Marco Pallis, The Spiritual Ascent: A Compendium of the World's Wisdom, 2008

So, is Maier saying such a person must have access to authority for justice or referred to authorities for correction? Also, is the authority referred to academic or legal?


  • As far as I can tell, the problem is from eons ago and it remains unsolved. It's an exasperating side to childhood that persists through adulthood and well into dotage ...
    – Hudjefa
    Commented Aug 19, 2023 at 4:47

1 Answer 1


Michael Maier b 1568, would likely be talking in the context of religious ideas, which must rely on authorities rather than reason.

Authority just means being respected as someone with a position of power and knowing within some context. Etymology is from "book or quotation that settles an argument, passage from Scripture", same root as 'author', one who writes.

I don't understand why you would relate the passage to justice or correction. It is clearly about sources of knowledge.

  • Other cultures give equal (or at least more balanced) weight to the foundations of epistemology. See pramana where different authors count these differently. But 3 are almost always counted: (a) direct perception (b) indirect viz inference or logic (c) authority, often called testimony of the sages/Vedas etc
    – Rushi
    Commented Jul 20, 2023 at 4:18
  • @CriglCragl Are you saying or would it would be fair to interpet MM as meaning that regarding an issue that one believes defies "reason" that one "must" refer to religious/spiritual/paradoxical knowledge authorities? Commented Jul 20, 2023 at 15:41
  • The quote is clearly critical of people who "will not acknowledge the force of reason." Maier is criticizing those who appeal to authority, and conversely praising those who appeal to reason.
    – causative
    Commented Aug 19, 2023 at 1:09

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