This is an essay about the power of ideas and the influence of institutions.
What Gibbon termed the pure. "force of persuasion," unaided and unhindered by institutional context, I refer to as "intellectual authority." This has been defined as "the authority exerted by arguments that make their way simply by virtue of a superior rationality and do not depend for their impact on the lines of power and influence operating in an institution." The contrastive notion of "institutional authority" refers to the nonintellectual influence exerted by social, political, cultural, historical, legal, literary, educational, religious, and other institutions. The nonintellectual influence of intellectual institutions is a particularly interesting and perplexing subcategory of institutional authority. Law and literature, for example, both aspire (or have aspired) to be institutions in which intellectual authority is the coin of the realm.