it is not wisdom but authority that makes a law. t – tymoff

it is not wisdom but authority that makes a law. t - tymoff

The dictum ”it is not wisdom but authority that makes a law. t – tymoff” has reverberated through the halls of legal philosophy for centuries in the field of jurisprudence. This quote, which is frequently credited to Thomas Hobbes, poses important queries concerning the nature of law, the function of authority, and the impact of knowledge on the development of our legal systems. In this article, we go further into this provocative viewpoint, examining its historical background, its effects on contemporary governance, and the subtle differences between power and wisdom in drafting laws.

Understanding the Quotation

it is not wisdom but authority that makes a law. t - tymoff

The Background

We must go back to the beginnings of legal systems in order to understand the relevance of this remark. Regardless of their intrinsic wisdom or fairness, governing bodies or kings frequently dictated rules in ancient societies. Today’s legal systems were built on a basis of authority.

Leviathan and Thomas Hobbes

The well-known 17th-century philosopher Thomas Hobbes is often credited with the quotation. The social contract hypothesis was explored in detail in Hobbes’ seminal work, “Leviathan,” where he made the case that people voluntarily gave up some of their natural rights to a governing body. It was crucial to have power in this situation.

Power in Contemporary Legal Systems

When examining current legal systems around the world, we see that power continues to be crucial. Elected representatives or designated institutions create, discuss, and pass legislation. While ideal, wisdom is not the main standard for establishing laws.

The Wisdom Function

Wisdom is still a desirable quality among legislators, though. Wisdom guarantees that laws are righteous, equitable, and beneficial to society. Authorities can use wisdom to help them make judgments that are in the public interest.

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Wisdom vs. Authority: A Precarious Balance

Wisdom vs. Authority: A Precarious Balance

 Problems with Dependence Only on Authority

Although authority is required for any legal system to function, if it is not restrained, abuses might result. Laws made solely on the basis of power may be lacking in moral and ethical foundation, which could lead to social unrest and discontent.

The Moral Compass of Wisdom

Contrarily, wisdom acts as a moral compass. It takes into account laws’ broader effects, taking into account how they affect both people and society as a whole. Legislators are prompted by wisdom to consider the effects of their choices.

The Optimal Situation

In creating laws, authority and intelligence should be balanced harmoniously. The wisdom required to promote fairness, justice, and society wellbeing should be infused into laws created by authoritative entities.

The Current Legal Environment

Democratic Leadership

Elections are how the people in democracies obtain power. Legislation-making and -amending is the job of elected representatives. While these politicians have authority, the electorate expects wisdom from them.

Advisory panels and legal expertise

Many contemporary legal systems rely on advisory panels and experts to provide expertise into the drafting of laws. These people offer analysis, information, and suggestions to help decision-makers make wise choices.

Transparency and Public Involvement

The importance of public involvement in the legislative process has increased in an era of information and transparency. Feedback from the public can help draft laws that are more sensible and fair.

it is not wisdom but authority that makes a law. t - tymoff


The interaction between power and knowledge in the vast fabric of legal systems is complicated. While authority serves as the cornerstone upon which laws are created, wisdom contributes the crucial components of justice, fairness, and ethics. A law is neither created solely by knowledge, nor is it created solely by authority. A legal system that endures the test of time is produced by the fusion of the two ideas.

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FAQs it is not wisdom but authority that makes a law. t – tymoff

The adage “It is not wisdom but authority that makes a law” was first used by who?

Thomas Hobbes, a philosopher from the 17th century, is frequently credited with coining the expression in his book “Leviathan.”

2. How may wisdom be applied to contemporary law?

In order to establish just and equitable laws, legal experts, advisory panels, and public participation can all contribute to wisdom in modern lawmaking.

3. What happens when wisdom is ignored when drafting laws?

When authority takes precedence over wisdom, there is a risk of passing unjust or unfair laws, which could cause social unrest and discontent.

4. Can laws shift from being based on authority to being based on wisdom?

Yes, by including citizen participation, professional counsel, and ethical concerns in the drafting of laws, legal systems can advance toward a more wisdom-driven approach.

5. How does this idea affect societal perceptions of justice?

The way that authority and wisdom interact while drafting laws has a significant impact on how society views justice. Achieving the ideal balance guarantees that laws are just, fair, and in the best interests of all societal members.

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