The Imporance of Parental Authority
The nature and purpose of parental authority is to direct and instruct towards achieving a good, as many philosophers will agree on. However, there are certain philosophers that differ on the rational use of parental authority. Some will adhere to the notion that parental authority must be bounded to moral law, whereas others believe in the divine nature of parental authority. Nevertheless, most philosophers will agree that the correct use of parental authority for any family will dictate the success or failure in achieving the truest good for themselves. Both Allan Bloom’s “The Clean Slate” and Rabbi Normal Lamm’s “Traditional Jewish Family Values” offer insight to the use, nature, and purpose of parental authority in the family’s achievement of goodness.
Rabbi Norman Lamm presents a model for parental authority in the traditional Jewish family. The father of a Jewish family is typically the source of authority for the family, but is not considered the absolute authority. The use of the father’s authority is exercised as the absolute source, meaning there is no democratic debate between each member of the family to come to a decision. As Lamm notes, the degeneration of the contemporary Jewish family stems from authority figures not exercising proper discipline, letting the family slip into this “liberal posture” (726). The nature and purpose of parental authority is ultimately meant to direct the child to his or her truest good. However, it is false to believe that the father of this idealized family is acting alone in instructing children. The father, as Lamm writes, is “not only the visible and present focus of authority…but he is also a symbol, the representative and refractor of a Higher Authority” (728). There is, in this statement, a direct implication that the father is only the focus to an authority that is greater than himself, and in working with that divine authority will direct the child to his or her good....
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