Tradition and Critique: On Wanting to Know

Traditionalists, and I’m in that camp at least on Tuesdays and Thursdays, really do need to accept the modern problematic and the modern questions — the looking over the shoulder — so as to avoid irrational traditionalism. Failing to do so renders tradition an arbitrary whim (a whimsical aesthetic, a lifestyle choice, as certain commentators criticize, and not without reason), rather than a reasonable choice. And yet, it is that very act of self-awareness which so often threatens the tradition, exposing it as less certain than was thought, and thus, maybe, optional. That kind of self-examination is not what the tradition is wont to do.

But reasonable traditions examine themselves anyway.

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2 comments on this post.
  1. C R Wiley:

    There is a tradition of of anti-traditionalism in western nations, with social narratives and individuals embedded in institutions. The high priests work hard to emancipate us from the clinging moralities of earlier times. I do not believe this new tradition — or the denuded morality of nature it appeals to — is worth the price we unwittingly pay. (Very sneaky — it is amazing how readily the folks who tell us you can’t get from facts to values move from their facts to their values — the ol’ bait and switch — we see it in your quote from The Guardian — there is a moral stance being advocated there — it is this — rational and scientific people (i.e. “good people”) understand and excuse what comes about by way of bio-chemistry.)

  2. Lance Kinzer:

    The distinction between tradition as whim (bad) and tradition as reasonable choice (good), while fine as far as it goes, obscures the fact that it is the very “givenness” of tradition, in opposition to any “chosenness” that allows tradition, experienced in the context of community, to produce men who know themselves and are known by others.

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