Skip to main content

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 completed his discussion of the Myth of Religion, and showed that Religion can play a useful role in society, as long as it does not try to impose its particular beliefs on society as a whole. He also pointed out that those who believe in the Myth of Religion (that Religion is the source of morality in society) also tend to value Tradition highly, since both seem to draw their inspiration from the past.

Today, he begins to examine the Myth of Tradition, the belief that Tradition is the repository of wisdom gleaned from the past and the cornerstone of stability in society.

Let’s take the walk over the orangeries to look at his argument . . .

Mr. George begins by noting that believers in this Myth imagine that Tradition is the locus of everything that has been shown to “work” in society over the millennia of human history.

Believers in this Myth lean on habits and customs handed down from their parents and ancestors. They regard such habits and customs as the standards by which life is to be lived. This saves a great deal of time and effort. They don’t have to think through every important issue of life for themselves.
In order to believe this, supporters have to imagine that Tradition presents them with eternal truths, which they can simply implement as their ancestors did. This, unfortunately, is an error, if not also a rationalization:
There can be no guarantee that any particular tradition is an eternal verity. And the very use of this justification usually implies that a challenge has arisen to confront the presumed verity.
Mr. George then points out that, even if the teachings of Tradition are of great antiquity, that does not make them true.
[N]either the length of time a custom has existed nor its putative utility are the most important factors in judging its value. A practice can be both traditional and foolish, traditional and unjust, traditional and irrational.

For instance, slavery was a long-standing and utilitarian practice. But it had to be eliminated, because it was fundamentally unjust. Justice, to name just one thing, trumps Tradition.

You can read the whole post here.

On Monday, Mr. George will show that Tradition cannot be relied upon implicitly, because, even though it may contain much worthwhile information, it also contains much folly, injustice, and irrationality.

I’ll be reporting back each day as a new installment appears.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site