Monday, October 16, 2006

Boston Atheists

Boston Atheists

I'd like to pose a question to members of this and other, related blogs. Since this is a question to which I suspect myself of already having an answer, my posing it is perhaps more akin to an experiment. My question is: Are there any instances in which the concept of 'tradition' is invoked as a causal explanation and defensive assignment of legitimacy to a belief, action or practice, that don't, in reality, represent an attempt--conscious or unconscious--on the part of the person providing the explanation, to conceal either an element or an essence of irrationality, illogic, illegitimacy, or moral/ethical failure? For instance, claiming that hoisting a Confederate flag above a state capitol is a matter of "tradition" is a clear example of an (usually conscious) attempt to conceal a moral failure and, therefore, an illegitimacy. Another way to ask my question is: Are any of the beliefs, actions or practices that are typically chalked up to 'tradition' actually rational, logical, moral/ethical, and therefore legitimate? I propose that this question is substantially more difficult to answer than most readers will realize at first glance.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I think that tradition is a very powerful word, invoking ideas of family, cosy interiors, and cohesiveness which, upon examination has less to do with solidarity than xenophobia. For me, he concept of tradition is best represented by the happy family, baking cookies and a Christmas tree; outside it is snowing, and the person you don't want to be is the one shivering in the snow, watching the happy family. So I think that defense of tradition is driven more by fear of aloneness and alienation than by calculation. I think it's a way of protecting your turf, of differentiating us from them. But for those who manipulate the concept of tradition and its implications, it's clearly self serving.