(This blog is part of a weekly series for Know Thyself 2019, a 365 day journal project. Start here!)
This Week’s Journal Topic: Power Over Other People
One topic that has interested philosophers of all the ages and all civilizations is power. To have power over others is to have the ability to influence their behaviour. When you have power, you have some kind of authority to make decisions and efficacy for creating real consequences. Contrast the (illusory) feeling of power with actually being powerful over others.
Power over others comes from various sources:
Parental authority – parents’ ability to influence their children, regardless of age
Education – overpowering by out-smarting
Charisma – persuasive language and charming personality
Political – ability to authorize actions that effect other people
Status – a job title that creates respect or fear
Money – “purchasing” certain goods and behaviours
Physical strength – dominating through offers of protection or creation of fear
The Pursuit of Power
Power can be motivating and addictive. Many human beings enjoy feeling power over others and take all kinds of actions to accumulate more influence. Enough is never enough. However, some people don’t enjoy feeling powerful over other people, perhaps because it requires too much responsibility, creates a fearful reaction in others, or goes against the ideal of equality.
- What are the material advantages to having power over others? (What things does power get us?)
- What are the emotional benefits that come along with having power over others?
- Describe a situation (at work, in society, or in a relationship) in which you successfully increased your position of power.
- Describe a situation in which you abused your power over another person. (How did you make the person do want you wanted even though they really didn’t want to.)
- Can you have power without having a strong ego – i.e. Can you be powerful but altruistic?
- Do you enjoy making other people do what you want?
- Do you think that someone who is physically weaker in a relationship can be in a dominant position in a relationship?