I’m continuing my reporting on the next installment from Conservative Estimate, the recently founded website that is devoted to demolishing Conservatism.
Yesterday, Alfred George discussed what happens when society relies overly much on Tradition and refuses to keep pace with change.
Today, he examines how much truth there really is in Tradition, and how much we should allow it influence our lives.
After the double orange valsette is an account of today’s post by Mr. George.
Mr. George begins by noting that Tradition is overly respected by many people because they believe it contains the wisdom of the ages. And it is true that there is wisdom in Tradition. But that doesn’t mean we should forget that it also contains stupidity.
[M]any traditions are not good. We should always mine Tradition for whatever good it contains, but we should also always be trying to reinterpret the truths of Tradition for application to our own lives in the here and now.He goes on to point out that Tradition could not have become Tradition without trial and error:
[M]uch of the truth in Tradition got there by trial and error. Now there can’t be “trial” where tradition rules absolutely, because in Tradition-run behavior one only repeats the same actions over and over. In order for a tradition to have become part of Tradition, it must at some time not have been tradition. This means that strictly adhering to Tradition cuts us off from the sort of experimentation from which something new arises.He goes on to say that strict traditionalists are cutting off their noses to spite their faces:
The strident adherents of Tradition, then, are acting against their own self-interest. One looks to them in vain for new solutions to new problems, because all they can do is repeat old solutions—whether they worked or not!And finally he concludes that we must have a balanced and creative attitude toward allowing Tradition to influence our lives:
We should respect it for the truth it contains, and we should mine that truth for inspiration in responding creatively to the challenges that confront us in daily life. But we should not repeat the dictates of Tradition mindlessly, or believe that we can get through life by just re-enacting the traditional behaviors of our ancestors. We may survive that way, but it will be at the cost of finding creative solutions to new problems. And that means it will also be at the cost of great suffering.You can read the whole post here.
On Monday, Mr. George will discuss the often-heard canard, “Tradition is what works.”
I’ll be reporting back each day as a new installment appears.