from the top down


Senior Member
The following sentence comes from Rationality by Steven Pinker in his book Rationality While discussing the ways to make people more rational:

Most sweeping would be a valorization of the norm of rationality itself. Now, we can no more impose values from the top down than we can dictate any cultural change that depends on millions of individual choices, like tattooing or slang.

I wonder what he means by "from top down"! Does it mean values imposed by some sort of authority on the rest of the people for example?
  • kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    In the area of language a famous example is the French academy that attempts to tell people who are native French speakers what is the right way to speak French and what terms are correct to use.

    In contrast, English speakers determine what is "right" much more by consensus among themselves and not by a single authority telling them how to speak