What is a man?

Fellow travelers autoDogmatic return after a three-month break with a criticism of "traditional" theories of manhood. Contemporary culture is supposed to lack a good answer for this, i.e. doesn't include submission to authority as a virtue, but Neal's conclusion sums it up pretty neatly: "What is a man? A man is free. A man questions and reasons. From there comes all else."

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Many authorities

The word "authority" has a tendency to disguise the variety of kinds of authority. Governmental authority, parental authority, contractual authority, the authority of experience - and many other kinds of authority exist and a successful attack on one authority need not touch another authority. For example, the authority of the state is based on force - ultimately on the state's literal ability to defeat and subdue those who disobey it. The state has the raw capacity to compel obedience, which is precisely the same capacity that a mugger or rapist has, and it has exactly the same moral character as the authority of the rapist. Contractual authority (for example, employer authority) is handed over voluntarily for the sake of a cooperative project. And then there are looser or more metaphorical senses of authority, such as the authority of custom, tradition, common practice, widely accepted standards, and so on - the sort of authority that Humpty Dumpty of Through the Looking Glass rejected.

"It's funny. I can look back

"It's funny. I can look back on a life of achievement, on challenges met, competitors bested, obstacles overcome. I've accomplished more than most men, and without the use of my legs. What. . . What makes a man, Mr. Lebowski?"

"Dude"

"Huh?"

"I don't know, sir."

"Is it. . . is it, being prepared to do the right thing? Whatever the price? Isn't that what makes a man?"

"Sure. That and a pair of testicles."