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Is quoting an authoritative source a useful or effective way to demonstrate that an assertion is correct?

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  • I'd suggest the only way is to use your reason. nobody can tell you what is a sensible idea. There are tools for the job but we each have to be our own workman. – user20253 Apr 16 '19 at 12:58
  • @PeterJ, I agree. That's why our individual thought processes are relevant to philosophy. Thanks. – Rortian Apr 16 '19 at 16:18
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    Perhaps change the title, and add a bit more context to the post? One liners are hard to read into, and are discouraged, they are often closed as too broad/vague. "Sensible, reasonable or wise" are also too much in the eye of the beholder, but you could ask about comparative metaphilosophical studies, for example. – Conifold Apr 16 '19 at 19:16
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    This is not a criticism at all, just policy here, we are not passing judgment on the quality of your posts as a piece of philosophy. Your reaction is understandable, and many people have it at first. The thing is that this site has a very limited scope and purpose, we are not doing philosophy here, paradoxical though it sounds. So no speaking for/about ourselves, just trading references. Opinions are exchanged in forums and chat rooms, one can use this site to make those exchanges more substantive, but it is not for having them. – Conifold Apr 16 '19 at 20:31
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    this is the most BROAD question i have ever encountered! – user38026 Apr 17 '19 at 0:09
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Kenneth T. Gallagher described "all truly philosophical questions" (page 34) from the position of Gabriel Marcel as "mysteries" rather than "problems".

Consider the differences between these words:

A problem, is an inquiry which is set on foot in respect to an object which the self apprehends in an external way. (page 31)

Quoting an authoritative source may be the answer to a problem or question of some object apprehended in an external way. Questions about the validity of symbolic arguments may be examples of such.

A mystery, on the other hand, is a question in which what is given cannot be regarded as detached from the self....A mystery is a question in which I am caught up. (page 32)

If the philosophical musing is a mystery, such as questions about freedom, the authoritative source would be evidence for the person to consider who will then have to understand the musing not as some object "detached from the self" but as a mystery in which "I am caught up".

Consider the question:

Is quoting an authoritative source a useful or effective way to demonstrate that an assertion is sensible, reasonable or wise?

If Gallagher and Marcel are correct and the assertion is not a problem but a mystery, then the authoritative source may be useful but the demonstration that it is sensible, reasonable or wise is up to the person who is "caught up" with that assertion as a mystery.


Kenneth T. Gallagher. The Philosophy of Gabriel Marcel. 1975. Fordham University Press.

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    There are at least two good points here. To me philosophy is necessarily about mystery (as is science). These disciplines are concerned with the value of inquiry; they're concerned with considering issues which may never be fully resolved but which may be described in more and more useful ways over time. Second, subjective assessment is a necessary process to consider when figuring out how abstract ideas do or should relate to our actions. Thank you. – Rortian Apr 16 '19 at 16:15

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