P. 1
7870288 Shils Tradition

7870288 Shils Tradition

|Views: 1|Likes:

More info:

Published by: Alejandro Tapia San Martín on Jun 22, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less





Tradition Edward Shils Comparative Studies in Society and History, Vol. 13, No. 2, Special Issue on Tradition and Modernity.

(Apr., 1971), pp. 122-159.
Stable URL: http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0010-4175%28197104%2913%3A2%3C122%3AT%3E2.0.CO%3B2-Q Comparative Studies in Society and History is currently published by Cambridge University Press.

Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at http://www.jstor.org/about/terms.html. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at http://www.jstor.org/journals/cup.html. Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission.

The JSTOR Archive is a trusted digital repository providing for long-term preservation and access to leading academic journals and scholarly literature from around the world. The Archive is supported by libraries, scholarly societies, publishers, and foundations. It is an initiative of JSTOR, a not-for-profit organization with a mission to help the scholarly community take advantage of advances in technology. For more information regarding JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.

http://www.jstor.org Fri Feb 29 20:33:14 2008

Cambridge University and University of Chicago


All existing things have a past. Nothing which happens escapes completely from the grip of the past; some events scarcely escape at all from its grip. Much of what exists is a persistence or reproduction of what existed earlier. Entities, events or systems, physiological, psychological, social and cultural, have careers in which at eachpoint the state of the system stands in some determinate relationship to the state of the system at earlier points. Change as well as persistence are gripped by the past. The mechanisms of persistence in human things are numerous; they range from the stability imposed by genetic properties and the approximate identity of biological structure, from the continuity of personality through conditioned reflexes, biochemical equilibria, memory and self-identification in consequence of a constant ego-ideal and moral standards to the large variety of modes of self-reproduction of social and cultural systems. All novelty is a modification of what has existed previously; it occurs and reproduces itself as novelty in a more persistent context. Every novel characteristic is determined in part by what existed previously; its previous character is one determinant of what it became when it became something new. The mechanisms of persistence are not utterly distinct from the mechanisms of change. There is persistence in change and around change and the mechanisms of change also call forth the operation of the mechanism of persistence; without these, the innovation would fade and the previous condition would be restored. But the grip of the past is not exhaustively described when we speak of the determinative significance of the received institutional, personal, cultural equipment and the given environmental conditions and resources with which and in the face of which any action must be undertaken. Past things possess or acquire metaphysical, religious and aesthetic significances for human beings. Memory makes possible but it does not compel preoccupation with the past, the love and hatred of the past which are more than the love and hatred of present things inherited from the past. The needs to have a valued past, to be continuous with some aspect or strand



of the past, to justify oneself by reference to a real or alleged connection with some vital point in the past, are all problematic. They call for analysis in their own right and as parts of the system of mechanisms of persistence through which the past lives into the present, or is even sometimes partially resurrected in the present. In the following paper I shall be concerned with mechanisms of persistence but not with all of them. Those mechanisms of persistence operating from the stability of genetic properties, or from the stability of the ecological environment, will be disregarded here. The large residual category of persistences arising from attachments to past things, to past persons, past societies, past practices, the performance of actions practised in the past, the adherence to modes of perception, belief and appreciation received from those who observed them previously, forms the subject matter of this paper. I am engaged here in an attempt to elucidate the structure, forms and functions of tradition. 'Tradition' and 'traditional' are among the most commonly used terms in the whole vocabulary of the study of culture and society. The terms 'tradition' and 'traditional' are used to describe and explain the recurrence in approximately identical form of structures of conduct and patterns of belief over several generations of membership or over a long time within single societies (with a more or less delimited territory and a genetically continuous population) and within corporate bodies as well as over regions which extend across several bounded territorial discrete societies which are unified to the extent of sharing in some measure a common culture-which means common traditions. Those who would explain why a particular action is performed or a particular belief accepted say that 'there is a tradition . . .' which motivates or elicits the desire to act or believe in that way; the matter is left at that. 'Traditional' is used to designate whole societies which change relatively slowly, or in which there is a widespread tendency to legitimate action by reference to their having occurred in the past or in which the social structure is a function of the fact that legitimations of authority tend to be traditional. Practically all current macro-sociological classifications of types of whole societies rest in various ways on the distinction between the 'traditional' and 'nontraditional' or 'modern'. Critics of contemporary Western culture criticize it for having lost its traditions; public disorder is attributed to the decay of tradition, the defects of institutions are interpreted as a result of the dissolution of traditions or their failure to develop traditions. Critics of societies outside the West criticize them for being too traditional. Those who exhort others in a group to act in a particular way allege that to do so would be in accordance with the traditions of the particular group; or alternatively that the adherence to certain traditions must be discontinued.

This being so. Studies of change in beliefs are accounts of changes within an individual lifetimeusually the period scrutinized is much shorter than a lifetime-or of a series of cross-sections of the states of belief of a population at various points in a temporal sequence. One possibility is that despite the frequency of its use the term means nothing at all. In the latter. . one sees that there has been very little analysis of the properties of tradition. the mechanisms which connect the various cross-sections or states of belief at a series of points in time are not treated. Another is that it means so many different things which are so different that there is no point in trying to group them or to analyse them together. It is not that the social sciences are indifferent to 'communication'-on the contrary. in temporal sequences of short duration.Yet in scrutinizing the literature of the social and cultural sciences. The traditionality of 'traditional societies' is assumed and the structures of these societies are described and studied without reference to the ways in which and how tradition determines them. but they are seldom linked with 'tradition'. I would put forward the following hypothesis: the social sciences have in the period of their recent prosperity been focused on the living. The substantive content of traditions has been much studied but not their traditionality. Studies of socialization are valuable contributions to the understanding of the processes of transmission of beliefs (and evaluative attitudes) from those who have held them to those who have not hitherto held them. But the fact that neither of these views is generally espoused among social scientists prompts me to look for other explanations. the relations of two generations alive at the moment of study. Yet it is the linking mechanism and the sequential temporal pattern which are the constitutive properties of tradition. they have tended therefore to treat the 'historical' aspect as a residual category from which ad hoc explanations are often drawn. There is certainly a marked tendency in contemporary social sciences for them to see their subject matters in the here and now. then that might explain why there has been no systematic treatment of the subject. Nor do they disregard communication between generations. communication is among their chief interests. whether a newly born child in a family or an immigrant into a society or a new recruit into a corporate bodycertainly deals with the assimilation through the communication of a pre-existent culture. It is not easy to account for this omission from contemporary studies of society and culture. The conceptual structure of social science theories tends on the whole to be atemporal. If social scientists and social philosophers took either of these positions. The modes and mechanisms of the traditional reproduction of beliefs are left unexamined. 'Socialization'-the process by which a newcomer.

He too confronts a situation of ongoing activities and is the addressee of expectations. it should be understood as covering procedural rules. etc. He must become or do something which he had not previously been or done and he will so do by acquiring beliefs which are already believed in his new environment or by performing actions which are already being performed in his new environment. The situation is in very important respects the same for a child born into and growing up in a family. are already currently accepted and practised by many of those who have preceded him in entry into the situation. causes the present and prospectively the future to bear a close resemblance to the past. All these are 'given' to him to 'receive'. of the already existent. He is instructed by authorities. Those who are already there seem. they know what is expected of them and they know how to meet those expectations. a student entering a university which he has not attended previously. The beliefs offered or available to him are as far as the newcomer is concerned part of a situation which is 1 In what follows. he sees what others are doing and infers from his perception of their actions beliefs about what is required. more or less. . 'factual' propositions regarding empirical and trans-empirical events. I shall also deal with 'traditional' actions but primarily with respect to the beliefs which engender 'traditional' action. He becomes part of the bridge which carries the past into the present. when he first enters the situation. or put somewhat differently. cognitive. about the wider situation and about what is right and what is wrong in each of those situations. THE TEMPORAL CHARACTER OF SOCIAL AND BELIEF SYSTEMS 1 . He hears what they say about what they are doing and what they believe. The Presentness of the Past A person who arrives in a situation which is new to him-a person taking up employment in an organization in which he has not been previously employed. He is.I. a recruit into an army unit or an immigrant into an alien societycomes into an ongoing situation. conformity with which will enable the 'newcomer' to act in a manner which will give his activities an acceptable place in the future reproduction of the already ongoing activities. THE NATURE OF TRADITION A. The newcomer has to 'fit in'. a 'recipient' of what is 'given'. unless otherwise specified. which are offered to the newcomer by those already present and above all by those who are particularly charged with the responsibility to inculcate these beliefs into the newcomer. The beliefs-including evaluations and imperatives-and the models of action associated with these beliefs. I shall usually use the word 'belief' to refer to evaluative. They 'believe' certain beliefs1 about their immediate situation. appreciative and cognitive judgments. to know what to do at each moment.

e. Traditions are beliefs with a particular social structure. How far they extend into the past is another matter-their 'givenness' might or might not include reference to their 'pastness' and its extent. What a person believes at any point in time is in a sense transmitted to him by himself.2 The belief itself. . The sequential structure of traditional beliefs and actions can itself become a symbolized component of the belief and its legitimation (the grounds of its acceptance). They are beliefs with a sequential social structure. 'we should do as we have done before') or by becoming part of the legitimation (e. in reality complete independence is unlikely. a traditional belief? Rather than to attempt to answer this question directly. In this paper I am interested primarily in interpersonal and above all intergenerational traditions but I do not gainsay the significance of the intrapersonal traditions for the interpersonal. they have a temporal structure. They are beliefs which are believed by a succession of persons who might have been in interaction with each other in succession or at least in a unilateral (even if not intergenerationally continuous) chain of communication. they are a consensus through time. referring to properties of the situation and the role of the newcomer might not in principle include any reference to the grounds for its acceptability-although in fact it usually does. 'we should do now what we did previously because that is the way in which it has always been done or because that is the way in which the founder did it'). This structural property of traditional belief is distinct from the substantive properties of the beliefs. In their content they might well be atemporal (i.e. If the temporal structure is not a product ofbiological identity then the reproduction of the past belief or performance is likely to occur when the past belief or performance serves as a model for the prospectively accepted belief or prospectively performed 2 We could use the term 'tradition' to refer to every belief which is believed at a given moment by a particular person and which was believed and accepted previously by that person and which was believed and accepted previously by that person 'because' he accepted (i. i. Is every belief which is given. pre-existent and not newly created by the person who believes in it. It is also distinct from mode of acceptance.g. I shall follow a more roundabout path. 'Intrapersonal traditions' are closely connected with interpersonal traditions. It would be an 'intrapersonal' tradition. But even then. Although analytically the temporal structure of traditional belief or action is independent of its being taken into the substance of the belief. The fact that a person believes at a given moment what he previously believed enhances the likelihood that he will continue to believe it in the future and that he will offer it to someone else in a way which will differ from the way in which it would be offered if he had not believed it at an earlier time. i.e.e. the extent to which the beliefs themselves refer to the past and to which their legitimation refers to the past. They are continuations of a past which has preceded him. they might make no reference to past or future) and they might not even have a temporal (traditional) legitimation.'given' to him. believed) it even prior to that earlier point.g. It becomes part by being referred to in its pastness as a model (e.

Thus even though one-perhaps the chief-constitutive feature of a traditional belief is that it has been believed previously. could conceivably be rediscovered by every generation out of the need for classifying and enumerating to solve the tasks of everyday life. its present acceptance. 'handing downY. . we might justifiably refuse to call the belief in rules excogitated and promulgated anew in each generation of users a traditional belief. generation after generation. of a traditional action that it has been performed previously. and since the occurrence in the present is not a function of biological structure or genetic endowment. There is something about the mode of the handing down of traditional beliefs and of receiving what is handed down which distinguishes traditional beliefs from other beliefs. generation after generation.e.3 Filiation entails not only handing down but receiving as well. There is however a marked tendency for reception to be motivated by belief in the legitimacy of the authority of the recommender and for some of this legitimacy to be connected with the traditionality of the authority and of the rule which he sponsors or commands. only their models. There are beliefs which might be believed recurrently. Hence a 'statistical' criterion of recurrence alone. because they are rediscovered in the confrontation of experiences which are themselves stable and recurrent. to the previousness of its occurrence.action. The elementary rules of arithmetic. Likewise. The past performance or the action or the past acceptance of the belief is less likely to be a model if there is not some reference to its pastness. for example. Recurrence or identity through time is not as such the decisive criterion of traditional belief or action. It is not the intertemporal identity of beliefs or actions which constitutes a tradition. Acceptance or performance in the past must have some causal or necessary connection with its acceptance or performance in the present. rules and legitimations are. Frequency of recurrence is a constitutive element but is not sufficient to define a traditional belief (or action). the religious needs of the human race might generate perceptual experiences in every generation which would create a recurrent 'knowledge of God' similar from generation to generation. Filiation entails transmission. We often speak of the traditional acceptance of a belief as an unthinking 3 Actions are not handed down. i. it is the intertemporal$liation of beliefs which is constitutive. Both handing down or recommending are susceptible to various motives. it must be mediated through the perception of pastness. is not sufficient. or performance-its continuation in the present-depends upon its being perceived by those who recommend acceptance or perform it as having been existent previously. even if we could obtain a satisfactory measure of the critical minimum frequency of recurrence necessary for the constitution of a tradition.

empirical and 'traditional' traditions constitute a major problem in the study of tradition. i. Such beliefs are clearly traditional in their formal properties. it can be in part rational as well as charismatic. Alternatively the model might be accepted after scrutiny to determine whether it conforms with certain criteria which are themselves unthinkingly accepted. Scientific and technological beliefs are often 'unthinkingly' accepted.e. with respect to the legitimacy of those who conduct the institutions within the beliefs are promulgated. It is a rational (and empirical) zone. On the contrary. In any case. Beliefs which are rationally recommended and received and which are not in that sense traditional do enter into and form traditions. Traditional reception is different from a belief received solely on the grounds that its 'recommender' appears to the 'recipient' to be so intensely and concentratedly charismatic that possession of the belief and its observance in conduct place the recipient into direct contact with the locus of charisma. that they have been accepted in the past. Beliefs can also be accepted on the grounds of the charismatic qualities of their recommenders-just as they might be generated by the working of the mind on the raw facts of experience or by the rationally persuasive powers of those who recommend them. The unthinkingness of the acceptance might be tantamount to the acceptance of the model of the already existent as a whole. Thus it would appear that there is nothing in the content of a belief about charismatic things which requires it to be factually independent of tradition. such beliefs about charismatic things are most often transmitted traditionally. Or again it might entail the discovery of a new pattern of belief by the application of criteria which are unthinkingly accepted. Beliefs about sacred things can be transmitted and accepted 'unthinkingly'. a fully traditional belief is one which is accepted without being assessed by any criterion other than its having been believed before. Their traditionality may obtain with respect to the criteria for the determination of what is to be believed. they are recommended largely and are accepted largely on traditional grounds. The intricate interconnections between rational. Their traditionality is less homogeneous or pervasive than that of beliefs which are substantively traditional. The unthinking or 'unconscious' acceptance of beliefs which in their substance are rationally and empirically demonstrable as true is a real possibility. the charismatic events occurred in the past and adherence .acceptance of a belief previously accepted by others. i. even if they are not substantively traditional. In many cases the charismatic content itself is tied to pastness.e. A belief which refers to sacred things can be structurally traditional. they are accepted without analysis by the acceptor of the grounds on which they could be demonstrated. but there is a zone in the beliefs themselves which is in itself free of traditionality.

which means transmission to a succeeding generation. or rather entry through imagination. 'everybody'. The Present as the Reinforcement of Responsiveness to the Past The property of statistical frequency-sheer massive factuality. . as do those who are alive and present. Its 'pastness' is then joined to its charisma as the grounds for the claims which are made for its acceptance and observance 2. into a massive performance touches something deep in the human mind. Those who have a quality of pastness about them 'count'. give no directives and indeed do not in any way address themselves to the potential believer who only perceives their acceptance of the given belief and is not perceived by them. In principle. charisma becomes 'traditionalized'. Its persuasiveness rests on the immediacy of the link to the source of charisma which reception provides. The anonymous 'they'. etc. There is something like this at work in the traditional reception of a belief. It overcomes the tendencies of individuality which would make the individual self-sufficient and separate and which fuses individual minds into something closer to a single entity. a belief recommended by a concentratedly and intensely charismatic individual has no past. the conimunis opinio embraces the past as well as the present.to propositions about it involves also adherence to a pattern evolved in the past and that partly on grounds of its having occurred in the past. The perception of a certain 'state of mind' in others arouses a disposition towards a similar 'state of mind' in the perceiver-where the perceived 'state of mind' is of sufficiently massive frequency.. 'Pastness' becomes important as the link to the charismatic source which becomes increasingly remote temporally. This is true both of contemporaneous events and events occurring in extended temporal filiations. present and past-has a penetrating impact on the behaviour of those who perceive it. The simple perception. Through the sharing of an idea. It works because it entails a perception of the quality resident in other minds and this perception opens the mind to a 'contagious' effect. Its authority depends on its immediately present contact with the source of its authority or validity. it is the acceptance of a belief which has been accepted by others in the past and by living elders who speak for the past in the present. Yet in the course of the process of 'routinization'. This was what Max Weber meant when he spoke of charisma as being revolutionary and anti-traditional. In traditional transmission and reception. it suspends the sense of separate existences. The communis opinio does not work only because its consensual acceptance by 'everyone' reduces the probability of perceiving or imagining the empirically possible alternatives which could be perceived by an external observer. are authoritative even where they utter no command.

to share beliefs in a community of those who have similar 'states of mind' extends not only laterally towards contemporaries but also backwards towards those who lived in past times. and yet the simple fact that they are older than those to whom they proffer the model makes them representative of an ill-defined pastness. the mechanisms which operate in the generation of consensus among contemporaries are also operative in traditional reception. The two bases of reception are almost always concomitant. massive and anonymous occurrence of the phenomenon in the past can constitute its claim to authoritativeness as much as acceptance or performance by a great personality in the past. Part of the acceptance by common opinion may be a function of (a) the presence of persons in dominant roles who are especially sensitive to pastness and (b) an incipient readiness to respond to the pastness of things.There is a marginal case of traditional transmission when living elders recommend a belief or a practice--explicitly or by providing a modeland it is difficult to say just how much of the authority of the proffered model derives from the pastness which the elders represent. which we shall call 'consensual reception'. In any given particular situation in which long recurrent beliefs are widely accepted. Where the elders offer traditional legitimation (e. beliefs and events which are recommended both authoritatively and consensually. In other words. 'it has always been done that way among us' or 'our forefathers always believed this to be true') then it is clearly traditional but they need not do so. this kind of reception. There is also a need to be in contact with them-not with all who have ever lived but selectively. like the need for community with those present. The sheer. The 'pastness' imputed to a belief or action may derive either from its presumed connection with symbols of authority in the past-the symbols may be symbols of particularpersons who exercised authority in the past or events in which authority was significantly exercised-or from the mere fact of its frequent anonymous occurrence in the past. In some respects. to their widespread acceptance by other persons to an extent which hampers the imaginative generation of plausible alternative beliefs. the combination varies from a very high degree of 'pastness' and a small degree of 'consensuality' to their opposite. is a variant of the need to be part of an order which is infused with meaning. Much of the reception of beliefs inherited from the past is to be attributed simply to the massive fact of their presence. . The need for continuity with those past. The need for the transcendence of the boundaries of the empirical self.g. this kind of reception reinforces reception on the basis of 'pastness'. is probably a major factor in the acceptance of beliefs and norms which have been observed in previous generations and which are recommended traditionally by the elders to their juniors.

there will remain the question as to why the pastness has any significance. Some belief in affinity-be it primordial or civil or charismatic or ideal-is a necessary condition of the willingness to receive a tradition. A particular relationship to the individual or collective performers or believers in the past is called for.TRADITION I31 3. at least in some part. Then too. It might also. 'Pastness' as such seems to gather to itself an authority independent of the contemporary consensus which confronts the individual actor and recommends to him a belief or . Their adherents or performers are no longer present. Important though the present is. if they are no longer living. whereas living and present contemporaries. it cannot contain everything. to the persons who will not heed their 'lessons'. might make unpleasant the lives of those who are indifferent to them. Granted that human beings have memories and that historiography. are not capable of doing damage. Does the fact that an action has been performed or a belief believed in the past confer on it a significance different from its mere occurrence in the present? In one respect. Its past performers or believers. it is not as exigent in its demand for attention as an action performed in the present. Even though it is said by the living that the events in question were very frequent in the past. not wholly unreasonably. extends and fortifies memory beyond the beginnings of the living generation. if their actions and the norms which the actions imply are disregarded. of visibility. in any empirically plausible way. why should the past be significant ? Obviously a great charismatic exemplar counts for more than a fairly considerable number of anonymous performers or believers. mythological or truthful. But this is not so with respect to events of the past. Yet there is undoubtedly more to it than this. a large part of the things which human beings at any one time value is bound to be in the past. the need to act effectively requires models of action and they will therefore readily accept the models which have been generated in the past and which have the advantage of being easily available. The Past as an Object o f Attachment The effectiveness of frequency of belief or action in the present is a function. lineages or corporate bodies. be contended that given the facts of memory and discriminating evaluation. Still we must not be diverted by the necessary task of analysing the relationship between different types of sense of affinity and the reception of tradition from consideringpastness as such. given the deficiencies of imaginative powers of most human beings. to accept it as a mandatory model for one's own conduct and the judgment of others. it is not frequency alone nor is it even pastness alone since the traditions which are respected in one society or lineage or corporate body often carry no weight with those who are members of other societies.

to some extent. The persuasiveness of the elders for many of those who acknowledge their authority is enhanced by the fact that the elders knew what the institution was before the young ones came into it. Only if 'experience' ceases to be equated with the number of years of service or if experience comes to be excluded as a criterion of recruitment and is replaced by other criteria which are not correlated with age will later entrants stand on a more equal footing with the earlier entrants. the point at which mankind was more in contact with the sacred source which set it into motion and provides the scheme for its right ordering? The greater power of those who are older to indulge and deprive is probably one important source of the prestige of the past. and quite apart from the formal and substantive properties of the belief itself.action affected with pastness. to share in these past states of mind which are embodied and symbolized by their elders. the origin of time. and this influence is enhanced by the correlation between the allocation of power and age which even the most 'juventocentric' societies have not succeeded in overcoming. This might diminish the amount of 'traditional belief' in a society in relation to the total body of beliefs in that society but it cannot eliminate it. It is in other words not just a matter of passive reception of the given. or of one's own culture or society have particular significance? Does a traditional reception of belief embrace in an inarticulate form some elementary image of a connection with the beginning of the universe. The more 'juventocentric' a society. elders continue to have preponderance of influence for a substantial period. The asymmetrical interaction permits the younger ones. Much of consensual reception is in large part traditional reception. Thus. There is a more active seeking relationship to traditional belief which motivates recommendation and reception at least in part and which 4 There is no direct linear relationship between influence and age. But why are older things thought to be better? Why does the mere fact of having existed earlier in the history of the earth or of the species.4 Traditional beliefs and practices are not only recommended by those who have received and observed them from their own 'elders' and received and observed by those immediately 'junior' to whom they are recommended. those who enter earlier will have advantages not simultaneously available to those who have entered later. It is not exclusively because the older ones occupy positions of power in corporate bodies and dispose over resources and rewards that they exercise influence on the younger members. A very large component of the face-to-face and the more indirect interaction in any society occurs between older and younger persons with much of the influence flowing from the older to the younger. however. even where no reference is made to the 'pastness' of the belief proposed and accepted. even where 'pastness' is not explicitly invoked as a ground for the reception of a belief. the earlier the beginning of the downward curve of the influence of advancing age. . the recipient is responsive to the proffered belief on the grounds of its pastness. The existence of some measure of present consensus in the recommendation of a traditionally received or legitimated belief is in fact evidence of this independence. As long as there are 'careers'. Even in such societies.

.TRADITION I33 also appears in a more independent form. of a sequential chain of beliefs with which they possess an identity or close resemblance. immediately given traditional beliefs are unsatisfactory-who are in search of traditional beliefs to which to attach themselves. what is significant is that he believes that it did so exist. i. The sought-for tradition is sometimes said to be the 'real' tradition or the genuine source of contemporary 'dilapidated' traditions. 'Renaissances' are the characteristic form of this rehabilitated tradition. This active and insistent search or demand for a tradition which is not immediately received and consensually recommended is not a search for just any traditional belief or practice. vouched for by the authoritativeness of their prior existence and the authority of those who recommend them. Sometimes the search goes 'abroad' and finds once or still accepted beliefs and practices which are thought to be more valid than the current beliefs and practices which might also be to a large extent traditional. the identity or close resemblance are functions of reception of the beliefs from their earlier state in the sequence or intertemporal pattern. The need to be connected with the past which is present in varying degrees in recommendation and reception is sometimes intense among those to whom the recommended. Some reception can be based on reasoned argument regarding the merits and consequences of the belief. The search for past practices and beliefs to replace those which are current at the moment sometimes discovers once accepted beliefs of the seeker's own society. It should be added that the source or model of the recreated tradition need never have existed in the form in which the seeker alleges. which have broken the lines of effective traditional transmission with the point of origin. But even these beliefs which are accepted by some persons and which are susceptible of 'proof' by reason and evidence are 'unthinkingly' accepted by many others simply as 'given'. although most transmission of most beliefs of most members of a society is traditional in the sense that they are received as 'given'-at least at the moment of their first reception. Not all beliefs which are traditional in the sense that they are part of a tradition-a persisting intertemporal pattern-are equally traditional in their mode of transmission. THE PROPERTIES OF T R A D I T I O N A L BELIEFS 1. B . The Formal Properties of Traditional Beliefs Traditional beliefs are any beliefs which are part of a tradition of belief. Traditions are sometimes sought for. etc. to 'create a past' for themselves which will legitimate them in a way which just being themselves in the present will not allow them to do.e. The whole phenomenon bears a close relationship to presumed 'Golden Ages'. empirical evidence.

Flexibility is the extent of modification or the capacity for modification of a belief or a pattern of belief through time. flexibilitylrigidity. The longer the presumed chain of traditionality. i. mandatoriness/permissiveness. exemplary transmission seems to be more permissive than exposition from a written text. Nor does the fact that any substantive belief or norm of action is capable of becoming traditionalized mean that all beliefs and norms are equally likely to become traditionalized. The content of a belief. They can claim to legitimate their actions by reference to law in conformity with present popular will. The levels of modification.I34 EDWARD S H I L S Thus every and any belief can be a traditional belief. The length of the chain of traditionality and the mode of transmission are further determinants of the properties which substantive beliefs acquire. coherence/disjunctiveness.e. transmission through exemplary models rather than through exposition and command all have some influence on the formal properties of the beliefs acquired through traditional transmission. oral transmission as against written transmission. For example. This does not mean that beliefs and the norms of action which become 'given' do not by the fact of their 'givenness'. does not render it immune to becoming part of a tradition and of being transmitted traditionally.g. acquire certain determinate properties. and precision introduces some measure of modification. Traditional transmission of written beliefs tends towards modification in the direction of greater particularity as well as precision (e. there are certain properties which tend to be generated in them in consequence of their traditionality. casuistry and 'normal science'). reception through concentrated and disciplined preparatory study rather than through reception in the context of ongoing performance. Yet even written transmission cannot be exhaustive in its prescriptions . or that they become traditionalized in the same way. this leaves room for interpretation. Oral. particularity/generality . Whatever the substantive content of the beliefs. however scientific that belief. The beliefs which become traditionalized need contain no substantive reference to the past. They can indeed disparage the past and praise the present and the future. the greater the degree of mandatoriness. experiment or revelation. by the fact of their traditional transmission. they need not express appreciation of the past in order to be recommended and accepted for their connection with the past. transmission in the context of unspecialized institutions rather than through specialized institutions. . in consequence of their being available or 'given' rather than by being newly promulgated by reason. There is probably no belief and no action which is not capable of being taken as 'given'. Transmission which refers to written texts of belief is conducive to precision. Some of the formal properties of beliefs and patterns of belief are precision/ vagueness .

Although all beliefs can be traditional (in structure and in mode of transmission). although they too are susceptible to possess traditional structure and transmission. Hypotheses about such correlations will be more appropriately produced when better classifications of modes of traditional transmission and of the formal properties of beliefs have been established. The models which are deferred to are not those which are immediately antecedent. details or framework. The latter will permit modification of details through specification.TRADITION 135 e. there are some which are traditional in substance. Different structures of traditional transmission will hypothetically each produce a corresponding set of characteristic formal properties.e. Beliefs which are not substantively traditional.g. The Substantive Properties of Traditional Beliefs In addition to the structural character of traditions and the formal properties of traditionally transmitted beliefs. i. The degree and level of modification might be affected by the mode of transmission. the former might permit more gradual modification of the framework of a pattern of belief through gradual modification of details. For example. All I do here is to indicate the problem. Likewise the prophetic tradition can be revived intermittently and indeed begin to flourish once more as it did in England in the seventeenth century amongst the dissenting sects or as it did in the Great Revival in the United States in the nineteenth century. The legitimation of a traditional . of finding once more a widespread acceptance ('Renaissances'). we must consider the properties of substantively traditional beliefs. Beliefs which have died away and have apparently ceased to have a wide adherence are capable of renewal. A tradition can have a continuous or a discontinuous structure. 2. are less likely to do so than are those which are substantively traditional. These substantively traditional beliefs are more likely than others to possess the structural properties and the modes of transmission and legitimation which I call traditional. can change at different rates. thus learning in the context of performance might permit greater and more continuous modification of a pattern of belief than learning by disciplined study. What are the properties of substantively traditional beliefs ? Traditionality of legitimation is one of these. the belief in the value of civic virtue according to the image of the Roman Republic can lose its following through being transformed into a belief in the value of the contemplative life-as seems to have happened in Europe in the high Middle Ages. It can then be revived as it was in fact in the late Middle Ages and early modern times in Italy and in eighteenth-century France and North America and to some extent England. Oral transmission might permit more modification through an extended period of time than transmission on the basis of a given written text.

Traditional beliefs are beliefs which contain an attachment to the past. by reference to their pastness. They could conceivably be entirely legitimated by the invocation of the 'tradition' of which they are a part. there is nothing to do but to accept them. Beliefs which assert that an earlier age of one's own society or civilization was a 'Golden Age' or 'the good old times' are substantively traditional beliefs. traditionally transmitted beliefs are recommended and received 'unthinkingly'. In their most elementary form. observance or origin. political. they are 'there'. No alternatives are conceived. religious. Scientific. all of these beliefs about the superiority of the past to the present. i. reception and observance becomes more frequent.belief-which is not the same as the substance of a belief and which is more integral to the mode of transmission-recommends its acceptance and observance on the grounds that it has been accepted as valid in the past or that a 'great man' created or discovered it in the past or had it revealed to him in the past. but in that case they would cease to be what we know them to have been. acceptance. ethical beliefs which do not refer to the past and which support themselves empirically. Once living bodies of knowledge could continue to exist as dead subjects. not examined. Once they reach the point of requiring a legitimation. and about the need to conform in the present with the standards embodied in the past could be about any type of society or institution or . In principle. Not all legitimations of traditionally transmitted beliefs give central prominence to their past existence. Beliefs which assert the moral rightness or superiority of institutions or a society of the past and which assert that what is done now or in the future should be modelled on the past patterns of belief or conduct are traditional beliefs. It is likely that certain branches of knowledge occasionally and transiently fall into this condition. to some particular time in the past or to a whole social system or to particular institutions which (allegedly) existed in the past. Rational and charismatic legitimation are likewise possible. promulgation. adherence and observance. expedientially and intuitively or by revelation and which are in no way substantively traditional tend in consequence of their structural traditionality to be supplementarily legitimated by reference to their past creation. the reference to the 'pastness' of their origin. not criticized and simply perpetuated. Yet is this all distinct from the question of whether these are substantively traditional beliefs-beliefs which are not just legitimated by the claim that many others or a great many others believed them before or which do not just stand in some genetic affinity with similar beliefs which existed previously and from which in a sense they flow? Are there beliefs which we can call traditional beliefs? It is perfectly obvious that there are.e. rationally.

about a republic. They express an attitude of piety not only towards earthly authorities. about a regime of individualism-and so it in fact was in the Roman Empire. Regardless of its substantive content any age or society has the capacity to arouse the affections of its successor. Traditional beliefs enjoin ceremonialritual performances. they are the beliefs of the Gemeinschaft. when historians like Tacitus looked back to the regime of republican virtue and used it as a standard to disparage the period in which they themselves lived. Traditional beliefs are deferential. So it was in the United States in certain sectors of opinion when the ethics of self-help and laissez-faire individualism were looked back upon as a Golden Age. Closely connected with this is the frequent disposition in traditional belief to perceive a sharp disjunction between one's own collectivity and others and therefore to accept the appropriateness of war as a normal relationship between societies. This short list of the 5 The attachment to the past might have very narrow and particular foci such as the literary production or the books produced in a certain past period or the furniture.5 These considerations now lead us to the positive content of traditional beliefs. They are beliefs in the value of the lineage and the kinship group and in the primacy of obligations set by membership in these groups. painting. towards the elders and ancestors but also to the invisible powers which control earthly life. These have often been described by sociologists and anthropologists. . Traditional beliefs of the substantive sort have no place for rational scientific theory or the results of scientific research. Holy men and priests are prized by traditional attitudes as is the learning of sacred texts.belief as long as it is located in the past. They are beliefs in the virtue of authority. of the folk or peasant societies. They are expressed in empirical technology rather than rational-scientific technology. domestic ornamentation or dress. There is certainly a marked element of traditionality in all this-it is an attachment to what has been handed down-but it is desirable to distinguish the aesthetic appreciation and particularly the aesthetic appreciation of a segregated sector of the past from the handing down and reception of the cognitive and moral beliefs which enter constitutively into social structure. near or remote. The use of techniques of the control and transformation of nature tends to be stereotypical. It could be about an equalitarian regime. The traditional attitude is a god-fearing attitude. Magic supplements empirical technique as a means of coping with the vicissitudes of earthly existence. silverware. They are particularistic in the sense that they recommend the primacy of obligations and attachments to bounded collectivities. ethnicity and the cultural sublimations of primordial ties in linguistic communities and national societies. above all the primordial collectivities of lineage. of respect for age and the rightful allocation of the highest authority to the aged. and to provide them with a criterion for judging their own contemporaries and the society in which they live. locality. tribe.

here I mean those events and 'power' to which ultimate importance is attributed. part of the legitimation is traditional and its norms and rules often have considerable traditional content in the sense of being aimed at maintaining what has been received. with decisive events. By the sacred. There is an authority inhering in symbols which derive their weight and force through their connection with persons formerly existent. 'that is the way they used to do it'. 'that is the way in which we have always done it'. Not all authority is traditional authority. who once filled certain roles or were members of the collectivity at an earlier stage in one's history. to do what he has to do. the desire to be consensual and a desire to be somehow connected with the past.substantive properties of traditional beliefs could be extended but this is not necessary at this point. THE SACREDNESS OF THE PAST There are numerous grounds for the reception of the beliefs which are given. through whom 'the past' is transmitted and by whom attachments to the past are fostered. Sacred beliefs are beliefs about the things which are thought to be most vital and most basic to existence. 11. Authority possesses the quality of sacredness and is exercised by elders. One fundamental ground for traditional reception norm is awe before the sacred in the past. what is important is that these properties embody and represent symbolically or are connected with symbols which are essential in our image of life and the universe and their right order. teachers. The sacredness of things can be timeless. continuously operative. with 'great moments' which shaped what came later. but most authority has a traditional element in the structural. legitimate and substantive senses. They may be 'founding fathers' whose importance has become detached from their names. They may become sublimated into maxims and phrases. How does 'pastness' become infused with sacredness? Why does the past sometimes arouse the tremendum numinosum which is aroused by the contemplation of the holy? It probably has to do with origins. Its institutions have usually been received as given. Their sheer existence makes a model available to an actor who must find a way to act. Unimaginative acceptance of the given is joined by fear of authority. G R O U N D S FOR T H E T R A D I T I O N A L R E C E P T I O N O F B E L I E F S A . It has . adults. Sacredness can be a property of individuals or of collectivities or of the external physical. like 'that is the way which it has always been done'. in which the past or the future has a special significance. They may be ancestors without names who have even in the course of time become completely disembodied and are now simply 'the past'. non-human world. by parents. it can be so while still having a temporal component.

because they accept the latter's authority. righter and more imperative than what has been thought and devised more recently. Such people have a continuous and alert sensitivity to the claims of the past for a continued existence in the present. Much of their environment and most of their beliefs are 'given' and even though they care little about its pastness.TRADITION 139 some primordial qualities which later derive in birth. There are some persons who think that the past had more wisdonl than the present and that what has come down to us is sounder. the sense of the past is very rudimentary. others are not. Yet these persons too live largely in the grip of the past. there will be a small minority whose responsiveness to the past is great. becoming acute to the claims of the past from time to time. the wisdom of the race is contained by what is handed down. by changes in the vocabulary and in the patterns of action which are believed to have a long past and which excite their affection. Some persons are 'musical'. Those who are 'unmusical' in their response to pastness can be just as much in its grip as those who are not. are the recipients of tradition as a result of tradition-recommending initi- . the responsiveness to the past exists in an attenuated form. and it finds expression in our confrontation with the past. But even in this muffled state. however. Just as there are marked differences in sensitivity to the sacred in general. if they see anything in it. the majority of the population of most societies. They might have no reverence for the past and its products but their actions are little different from those who do have such reverence. but not regularly. they live from it and in its midst. This continuing acceptance is partly the function of present authority which is usually more sensitive to pastness than are those who accept their authority. they see rather its potentialities for future development or as something which affects them at the moment or in the near future. between moments of acuity. They do not perceive or appreciate the 'pastness' of the beliefs they accept. For them. and in death. Their sensibilities are muffled. implying a criticism of the present and a refuge from it. The mass of mankind. When they confront an object existing at present before them. in marriage. In most persons. The connection of such objects with the past means little or nothing to them. so there are marked differences in sensitivity to the sacred in the past. which has survived from the past in material form. others more interested in the present wish to protect it from becoming too different from the past. Some of them are bores who only speak about the past. Their latent sensitivity to the past must be aroused by other persons who must 'believe' in it more than they do. most of the time. In any population. They are saddened by the demolition of an old building. Such persons have little imagination for 'how things were in the past'. Still others seldom speak of it but are quietly attached to it and are shaken by departures from the model which it offers.

These tradition-seeking persons exhibit a combination of resistance to currently prevailing and authoritatively recommended beliefs and an intense and active sensitivity to elements of the sacred contained in monuments or documents or texts which have come down from the past. more embracing realm of being. however. . to some extent true for large-scale pluralistic societies where alternative responses are visible to those who can see them. and by their example and their recommendation they arouse the latent responses of their less 'dutiful' fellow countrymen. for most persons at most points in their childhood and maturity. They find particular bits of the past with which they wish to be connected. Yet even in these societies. i. are not just the minds of those who are known in interaction. Tradition-searching has a marked tendency towards being ideological.ative of some of their contemporaries. These other minds. Awe before authority is a form of selftranscending effort to enter into contact with other minds possessing sacred properties. This is especially true in what are called 'traditional' societies. and above all the authorities of their society. are 'given'. perhaps more so in most societies. which are relatively homogenous and which offer few visibly practicable alternative lines of action and which. Beliefs which are current in autochthonous and primordial groups are not for these persons. except in the case of personal attachments. Incongruent alternatives are not so much deliberately rejected as scarcely perceived. moreover. within the circle of those who share that 'tradition' there are authorities who do recommend them imperatively. They are part of a larger. The latter are more sensitive to the 'sacredness' of 'pastness'. personal affection or love. They find these bits available to them in the 'cultural heritage' but there is no authority who recommends them in an imperative way. but membership in such circles of tradition is not imperative. Thus far we have spoken of the reception of what is traditionally transmitted as a function of sheer 'givenness' and of a response to the pastness of the 'given'. by their very homogeneity of response to particular situations do not stimulate the imagination regarding the possibility of inventing new lines of action. which transcends the present and which in many cases has had its 'great moment' in the past.e. Nonetheless. although the beliefs which they 'appropriate' to themselves may substantively refer to autochthonous or primordial things. The immediate pressure of 'givenness' is probably as important as the sacredness of the past. This is also. Of course. But there are persons who are not passive recipients of the given and who are more selective. even in the reception of what is 'given' there are some rudimentary feelings for 'pastness'. belief and courses of action which are within any particular social circle.

in contrast to the 'agnostic' and 'indifferent'.Tradition-seekers seek a 'more genuine'. then secret inward fuming and dissatisfaction. It may be broken by direct entry into immediate contact with the sacred in mysticism-which also has its traditional beliefs and techniques-or by the use of reason and experiment in science. The more pronounced the element of sacredness in authority. more immediate link with the sacred but they do it through the intermediation of a past event. it is more likely to be impelled by the need for a more comprehensive and absorbing transcendence in which individuality has been completely renounced. or if not disrespect. Traditionally transmitted beliefs can also be rejected by those who. in the past. T H E R E F U S A L OF T R A D I T I O N A L BELIEFS The sacred arouses hostility as well as awe. The continuing transmission of beliefs rests on the need for order. centred on the sacred. In the instance we have been discussing. B . Their rejection of traditionally transmitted beliefs out of the hatred of authority and the hatred of 'pastness' is not to be regarded as identical with the rejection which is a function of individuality. it is broken by recourse to a better version of traditional belief. For many persons what is traditionally transmitted through the recommendation of existing authority meets this need. The antinomian rejection of tradition is not impelled by the drive for individuality. the more likely it is also to arouse disrespect. Indeed. Authority frequently engenders some disposition towards rebellion. there are some who are negatively sensitive. a more genuine existence. . The immediately inherited pattern of belief is then broken. which is thought to have been 'allowed' to deteriorate or to be lost and forgotten. not merely as a stable context for instrumental action but as a transcendent realm of being. This 'rediscovered' tradition is the vehicle of a better order which had its 'great moment'. it is in fact often acknowledgment of its validity but weakness and apprehension of failure fosters deafness to its recommendation. the more compulsively animated the rejection of the traditional things. Among those persons who are especially sensitive to elements of sacredness and 'pastness' connected externally or substantively with beliefs. But such authority does not always do so and the order which is offered by the recommended beliefs is unsatisfactory. having been exposed to them. fear their own inability to live up to them. A compulsive rejection of traditional norms because of their pastness is no more than a form of antinomianism. traditions in which the sacred is imbedded also arouse hostility. the less it has to do with individuality. 'Pastness' not only arouses awe and observance. This in the first instance is not a denial of the validity of the traditionally transmitted belief. it also compels a tendency towards disrespect. These are the 'atheists'.

Where ecological and technological changes render possible or irresistible changes in modes of work and structure of kinship. occur in situations in which the beliefs recommended have not been previously accepted. more intermittent and more blurred. also lose their capacity to elicit acceptance. I N D I V I D U A L I T Y . C R E A T I V I T Y A N D T H E R E C E P T I O N OF T R A D I TION The chain of the transmission of traditional norms may be broken by the search for a better order in the past or by the compulsive needs to desecrate and destroy an authority which controls one at the very centre of existence. of being 'old-fashioned'. Just as in some situations it is thought that the past was the repository of what is good and true. the hitherto established and received traditional beliefs cease to be 'fitting'. Alongside of these motives for rejecting what is presented under the auspices of the past are the counter-attractions of the present and the future. 'behind the times'. These rejections. New situations which create new problems and which offer new gratifications and possibilities of gratification render previously accepted beliefs implausible and disadvantageous. Where the hitherto prevailing authorities have failed to exercise their authority in an effective manner and where expectations are not gratified. But it can also be inhibited by the . The authorities who recommended the traditional beliefs lose their deference-position and those traditional beliefs with which they are associated. This belief is often expressed in a fear of 'being left behind'. It may be broken by a belief in its inappropriateness or unfittingness or by the need to be 'abreast of the times'. many traditional beliefs become 'unfitting' and either become attenuated or are transformed. Much more frequent are the rejections which derive from the unfittingness of the traditional belief to newly acquired beliefs and practices. 'out of date'. so in others-which I cannot specify-it is thought that the present and the incipient future are the loci of the good and the true. The beliefs might not under those circumstances be explicitly renounced. The remoteness of the recommending authority -the lack of affinity between the authority and the subject to whom the recommendation is addressed-based on disparities and disjunctions of culture and on ecological disjunctions is certainly very common. but their acceptance becomes more attenuated. They gradually turn into new beliefs which still retain some of the idiom of the old beliefs and a little of their content. etc. C . The need to be in contact with contemporaries and what is 'up to date' in them bespeaks a temporal sensibility. quite apart from those which have become 'unfitting'.There are many other motives and conditions for the rejection of recommended traditions. however.

These are the people who find it easy to conform with tradition. a need for an internally generated coherence of experience and expression have a more active as well as a freer relationship to the 'given'. not out of awe before a sacred past or because there is nothing else to do. If the given is 'old'. in which the three types of bohemians. It is not however a war into which the original person is pushed willy-nilly by the sheer obstinacy of his character and the refusal to accept anything from the outside. They incorporate elements of the 'given' discriminatingly in accordance with criteria which are exercised from within outwards rather than the other way round. The sheer force of intelligence or the power of the ego results in an assimilation and to some extent transformation of the content of traditional beliefs. Such persons are not likely to be ready recipients of traditionally transmitted beliefs or of beliefs with traditional content. The Polish Peasant in Europe and America. The need for a high degree of individuality is weak in most people. I. if it is 'new' they accept it equally readily. the rational individual might end by accepting very much of what is handed down through traditional transmission. They have no feeling of need to be absorbed into the sacredness imbedded in the past. Znaniecki. not out of compulsiveness or passivity.TRADITION 143 power of the tendency within the ego to form itself into a coherent selfdirecting system. i. In principle. but rather because it turns out on examination to be the most reasonable thing.6 6 Cf.e. creative persons and philistines are delineated. Thomas and F. It is not so much the strength of the drive toward transcendence which accounts for this as it is. they accept it. They have little need 'to see with their own eyes' or to 'feel with their own senses'. Persons who have. without having a strong feeling about 'pastness'. Compulsive rejection and eruptive spontaneity have often been confused with originality or creativity. The 'past' is not rejected because it is the 'past'. Therefore they do not react against it either. Vol. rather. They have no need to reject. They are people who live within the framework of what is 'given'. toward remote symbols. The Burkean conception of tradition as an accumulation of wise judgments and prudent practice is a prototype of this kind of response to tradition. their reactiveness. True originality is a deflection of the line of traditional transmission. W. the rudimentariness or feebleness of their sensitivity. The . True originality transfers the centre of creativity into the individual and withdraws the determination of conduct from the external inheritance. however. particularly in bohemian circles and among those who carry on its traditions. They neither conform compulsively nor reject compulsively. Thus there is at the very root a war between originality and tradition. 11. 'Pastness' and 'givenness' are not the essential criteria of acceptance or rejection. because they have no strong sensitivity and therefore do not feel the burden of traditionality and of the sacredness which it contains.

Henceforth. S. while not being in revolt against them. retaining some elements of the tradition. They become a point of redirection of the line of tradition. A long chain of transmission might be required for the naked eye to detect the variation of the content of the beliefs transmitted. it accepts very much of what is inherited in the context of the creation. diminishing the prominence of others and introducing novelty as well. . It takes its point of departure from the 'given' and goes forward from there. I N N O V A T I O N A N D T R A D I T I O N A drastically generated. while accepting much. the path of innovation can never become completely open. in literature. 111. himself beginning within the framework of a body of traditional belief or practice may add so much in such a short time and have such bohemian is the compulsive refuser of tradition.) 7 'Tradition and Individual Talent' in The Sacred Wood. In any case. he must also have become sensitive and receptive to tradition. even though it rejects or disregards much of what it confronts in the particular sphere of its own creation. of course. The results of original creation or discovery stand in the stream of tradition. T H E GENESIS A N D M O D I F I C A T I O N O F T R A D I T I O N A L L Y T R A N S M I T T E D BELIEFS A N D P R A C T I C E S A. The degree of novelty. although the aperture has been widened since by the growth of rational powers and the growing multiplicity of alternatives. or in art. not just as a physiological organism which is dependent on its genetic ancestry and its prior state. can vary considerably. makes modifications through his inability or failure to live up to the demands of traditional standards. in his own quiet way. As man arose from the primordial slime. 'New' traditions emerge as modifications of already existing traditions. (There may always be a little bit of revolt in the modification of traditional standards by the 'philistine'. Thus the way was open for innovations other than genetic mutations but it was only partly opened and. totally new tradition is one of the most improbable of events.I44 EDWARD SHILS One of the major problems which confronts us in the analysis of tradition is the fusion of originality and traditionality. The 'philistine' is the unquestioning recipient who. Eliot's essay7 said very little more than that these two elements coexist and that originality works within the framework of traditionality. On the other hand. improving and transforming. therefore. but by attachment to its symbols and the incorporation of its inheritance. the capacity to store information and. he became bound to the past. a great prophet or great genius in science. The increments may be infinitesimally small and accumulate slowly throughout a century. memory and awareness of his biological lineage and a sensitivity to the outer reaches of the universe. correcting. in religion. It adds and modifies. acquired the human characteristics which go with a complex nervous system. T.

introduce a small variant. The antinomian rejects only the 'normal' traditional norms and attaches himself to another. The recipients of the new variant may actually believe that they are accepting totally new beliefs. The new tradition may be no more than a rigorous and intense reaffirmation of certain principal elements in the traditional belief or it may be something genuinely new in the society into which it is received. For one thing. however. they too are bound by the 'given' framework within which they have their point of departure. But antinomians are no more capable of creating a wholly new tradition than are geniuses. When the old 'normal' tradition arouses enmity and is deserted. the feeling that one is in that significant respect different from those who accepted the old belief. They take for granted what is older and do not consider it important. the standards of rejection are almost always acquired from some marginal strand of the general constellation of traditions which govern or are available in the society in which the antinomian lives. They are seldom if ever complete antinomians and so they leave intact some things of the tradition against which they revolt. The consciousness of accepting a relatively new or a newly traditional belief. less prominent tradition into which he might. The novelty which is attributed to the belief which they now espouse may be very much more important to them than what is more traditional within the complex of elements which constitutes the norm. The fact remains that completely disjunctive novelty in the sphere of belief is out of the question. But not only creative persons who seek to do something positive deflect and change the 'direction' of a tradition. the very idiom of rejection. But these observations refer only to the image of novelty among those who receive a relatively new variant of a tradition. Furthermore their following is usually more bound by the given than are the dominant antinomian persons and as a result the total transformation which they would instigate turns out only to be a modification. it yields some of the 'centre' to a previously marginal tradition. etc. if he is strong enough. It is at best only relatively new-although some new things are newer than others. geniuses. although imported . can never be a totally new tradition. they might indeed be unaware of its existence. The element to which the loyalty is newly drawn has not been predominant. The creation within a relatively short time of relatively new traditions is the work of strong personalities-charismatic persons. Even this departure.TRADITION 145 a powerful influence on those who come after him that it could be said that a new tradition has been created. is of course variable. Antinomians too who have a primarily negative attitude towards the 'given' and towards pastness can often bring about a change by arousing the latent antinomian impulses which any pattern of order generates and by discrediting the custodians of the inherited. Moreover.

Whereas traditional beliefs which govern conduct in corporate bodies and primordial and civil collectivities yield when their 'unfittingness' and the ineffectiveness of their recommending authorities become evident. The disclosure of deficiencies and gaps in these traditions and efforts to correct or improve upon them sometimes involve far-reaching modifications in the whole pattern of belief. every creative pattern which exists has such possibilities inherent in it. arising from their confrontation by exceptional intelligence and imagination. In either case.from some other society where it was either a marginal or a central belief. Some of the protectors and custodians of the displaced belief become passionate exponents of a 'revived' tradition. produced through the power of the human mind working under the discipline of training within the framework of its own traditions. no pattern of expressive objectivation is ever wholly closed. which are in their turn to become traditional. It only appears closed because the guardians of the system at a particular stage may be incapable of introducing and are able to resist innovations to be made in it. Every system of thought. is accompanied by a high state of intensity of attachment to the sacred things ostensibly neglected by the 'superseded' tradition. partially self-dissolving and self-reorganizing pattern. literature and art have a different source. No system of thought. Science is a continuously. they are 'traditionalists'. They can control the recruitment. the charismatic generation of the new beliefs. Tangible innovations in belief arouse among some of the proponents of the previously dominant traditional beliefs a state of intense consecration to a purer form of the once central tradition. Both those who recommend the displacement of the once recommended traditional belief and those who recommend its observance in purified form are innovators. These are subjected to modification in consequence of the disclosure of new possibilities in the traditionally received beliefs. This kind of creativity is not the product of the breakdown of the hitherto traditionally received beliefs arising from the failure of their custodians to control the situation and adapt the society or the corporate body to the new circumstances. the training of persons and opportunities for expression of those who work on these subjects and they can criticize them so negatively when they do express themselves that they do not succeed in finding a following. It is not because the traditionally transmitted beliefs have failed to remain in some sort of 'appropriate' relationship to the circumstances of their believers but because the intelligence and imagination of new recipients of the traditional beliefs have perceived defects in what has been transmitted. Thus they can hamper innovations . This is said to be the genuine tradition of which the recently received form was a degradation. innovations in traditional beliefs and procedures in science. scholarship. The creative powers themselves cause the breakdown of the hitherto traditionally transmitted beliefs.

narrative. still innovations must necessarily be made and are always being made. Originality may fall into such a state of disrepute and the negative sanctions attending its manifestations may be so severe that there is no incentive to modify the system by perceiving gaps and deficiencies. inconsistencies. Every pattern of symbolic objectivation has within it an inherent potentiality for transformation in a limited number of directions. within the . not all of them equally current or recommended at the moment. a powerful intelligence or imagination will perceive flaws in it and possible improvements. It is the ineluctable fate of every system of thought and every pattern of expression. Increased eminence increases freedom regarding the choice of theories and data to consider but even the great scientist cannot move among the elements of the available tradition with the freedom of the literary man or artist. Sometimes they are made with the intention of reaffirming and insisting on the coherence and validity of what has been traditionally received. within the categories of verse. lyrical or epic verse. In the latter. modifications will necessarily be made. where the traditions of society and the organization and custody of the institutions which guard these patterns of thought and analysis are watchful against innovations. incompatibilities.) The artist or literary man accepts a prevailing form in so far as it is 'fitting' to his ambitions. They will only cease to grow when they are totally disregarded and no strong mind ever concerns itself with them. the scientist may freely choose his problem from among the recently canvassed problems but what he attends to in the way of earlier and current theories and data is rigorously controlled by the opinion of his section of the scientific community. the painter can go back to Hieronymus Bosch and no one will raise an eyebrow at him. etc. Within that category. This happens even in cultures and societies which are unsympathetic with originality while in those where there is a high appreciation of originality even less intelligent and imaginative minds try to attain originality. The scientist is not free to draw his substantive inspiration from Galileo or Newton and to disregard what his contemporaries have done. But in so far as restless human intelligence confronts these systems which claim to be closed and settled. Creative innovations in literary traditions and artistic production have a different structure from creative innovations in traditional scientific and scholarly beliefs.in the traditional patterns of belief. (Nowadays he will even be praised for such a selection from among the traditions which are available to him. in which his 'genius' can find some sort of accommodation. i. We may even say. The structure of mind is such that once receiving what appears to be settled. There is more 'room for manoeuvre' in the former. There is already a wide variety of forms.e. The literary man can go back to the Marquis de Sade or Count de LautrCaumont.

it is because rich imaginations who wish to express something which was not expressed in the naturalistic novel no longer attach themselves and seek to work within its form. But even those. Creative powers in practically all instances are first aroused in their presence-'primitives' and 'uneducated poets' who are genuinely 'primitive' and 'uneducated' are practically non-existent-and however much geniuses diverge from the received as they reach the heights of their powers. unlike science. literature. Of course. Most institutions and corporate bodies usually permit creativity and the 8 I reject Alfred Weber's conception of culture as an activity and a body of works which are not cumulative in their relations to each other and which.)s Modern culture. the modern culture of originality or genius is greatly favoured by the relatively uninstitutionalized system of training and qualification of writers and artists. when this happens. Cf. philosophy) do not rest on past achievement. the landscape or still life.novel or short story. If his creative powers are weak. change the direction of tradition by providing new elements to be assimilated into the previously prevailing tradition. he will accept what is given and work within it. does not simply disappear. like Ulysses. are constantly being regenerated and renewed. Institutions generally are not and have not been foyers of originality. If the naturalistic novel has ceased to be a fertile form through which the imagination expresses itself. or the portrait. if it has had great works accomplished in it. But it cannot be completely free as long as the educational system and the system of exhibition first presents these works as the monuments of the past. Much of it is imitative of a creation which transforms. originally printed in Archiv fuer Sozialwissenschaft. it is discriminatingly assimilated and extended. An inherited form. they do have their point of departure in them. a 'new' tradition has been created. they are not part of a cumulative and developing tradition but depend exclusively on the stock of creativity existing in a given population among those seeking to practise a particular expressive genre. Alfred Weber thought that cultural accomplishments (art. which dominate for a time at least the attention of those who will later seek to produce works of their own. he tries to view and see and express what he has seen and felt in himself. Alfred Weber. encourages a free attitude towards the tradition of objectivations. If they are strong. (Some innovations do not find extension as a new tradition because they are too difficult to practise. What he accomplishes depends on his capacity to form a coherent whole of what he accepts from what has come down to him as part of the corpus of traditional objectivations and what his own imaginative powers require. In literature and in painting and sculpture. he will modify the received genre as well as express his own substantive viewpoint and sensibility. permeated by a high evaluation of genius which breaks through the bounds of traditional beliefs and practices to attain to a new level of the objective truth or to express the essence of the self's imagination and sensibility more completely. not all of the refusal of a traditional form within a genre is creative. Prinzipielles zur Kultursoziologie. .

And even the genius who in a situation in which he is cut off from the existing institutionally reproduced and extended tradition would be less fruitful because he would fail to rediscover all that he needed to know in order to work with an effectiveness commensurate with his capacities.e. His great creative powers then had a few years in which to add to the stock of mathematical knowledge. the creative powers of the young scientists and scholars would agitate themselves randomly and arbitrarily in a sterile void. a man of Ramanujan's exceptional genius would have been less handicapped by his institutional isolation. i. The less talented and the moderately endowed would be astray much of the time. the great work of Ramanujan is to some extent a psychological and historical curiosity. The custodians of literary and artistic traditions are less exigent and less powerful in imposing their expectations. however. Nonetheless. The literary and artistic worlds with all their cliques and tyrannies are freer than the scientific and scholarly worlds because they . But the years of isolation had rendered him ignorant of certain techniques which had he known them would have facilitated the working of his creative powers. In literature. the large body of scientific and humanistic knowledge. In order to achieve what they do. the weight of tradition within them is very great and correspondingly the restraint on spontaneity is also very great. i. It was only when he brought himself to the attention of Hardy (and Littlewood) and was brought to Cambridge that he acquired more fully the most recent tradition of mathematical knowledge. Research institutes which are not at all concerned with the transmission of the received tradition are even more concentrated on the modification and extension of traditional beliefs in the particular fields in which they are active. by himself-although not entirely by himself since he did have some elementary mathematical training in school and college-important things which were already known. to reaffirm it and transmit it.e. They would make many more false starts than they do and the best of them would often only rediscover what is already known. have become major bearers of the tradition of the creative modification and extension of traditional belief. Without. Consequently. Only the most powerful minds and the most selfdisciplined would hit upon what is essential in the motley and heterogeneous traditions which would be generated by such a disorderly condition. They would have no platform to stand on and from which to depart. Thus. without the inculcation of this vast body of what has already been achieved. in the presence of the culture of originality.refusal of traditional beliefs only in response to the exigencies of external situations and even then frequently against internal resistance. universities which in their beginnings were intended to rediscover the wisdom of the past. because he rediscovered. this traditional restraint. these institutions must inculcate and accept a massive corpus of traditional beliefs.

Like innovations in scientific traditions. political conditions and the appearance of new competitors. traditions of ways to deal with colleagues and competitors. Traditions of firms. but for the time being the desire to invent something new is directed to one element rather than to the others. They build from the platform of the traditionally inherited stock of knowledge and normative procedures which contain much knowledge tested by experience and sometimes even tested by scientific procedures. there are traditions of innovation of how to adapt to external changes and of the need to initiate changes. oriented as they are to the maximization of returns and guided by the principle of efficiency. . But alongside these. the more their fate becomes intertwined with the profession of scientific and technological research in which respect for the tradition of science-in substance and in procedure-is intimately linked with a well-rooted aspiration to go beyond it. technological innovations too have their point of departure in what has previously been received. even before research became integral to larger business organizations. Modern economic enterprises. these institutions contribute more to the orderly development and elaboration and deepening of the traditional norms of scientific and humanistic knowledge than they do to profound and disjunctive 'revolutions' in their subjects. it is these institutions which make possible a continuous extension of the traditions of their subjects and the continuous accumulation. traditions of workmanship.have neither the consensus nor the authoritative institutions of universities. Criticized though they have nearly always been for their lack of piety towards the past. They were driven to make innovations. They take for granted that which they are not seeking to modify. which reaches further and further into the nature of the universe or the nature of the human activities and productions which engages the minds active within those institutions. which forced them to make innovations to satisfy new demands and to deal with changes in the supply and price of labour. technology. These are usually traditions which entail attachments to practices and to beliefs accepted in the past. are also innovative institutions. enterprisers were innovators. not just of fact. but of deeper analytical penetration. businessmen too have their traditions. the rest of the traditionally given practices being accepted. raw materials. at least temporarily. The more the responsible authorities of a firm try to benefit from research on processes and products. They take very much of it for granted. not only because of the tradition of innovation under which their leading personalities work and by their relative emancipation from primordial and autochthonous ties but because of the exigencies of the intra. research institutes and scientific and scholarly journals.and international markets. Nonetheless. The institutionalization of research on processes and products guarantees this at present but. Of course.

Within the society too changes take place as a result of changes in the balance of power of the different sectors. There might well be no continuous line of change. for the time being. which an intermittently active. The accretion of new elements need be neither explicit nor intentional. enveloping state seeks to enforce. or on the other hand. also bring about adaptive changes. The mechanisms of the traditional transmission are always bound to be faulty in some way. The tendencies of the powerful to expand the sphere of their power. But even where these conditions are not significantly operative. demographic changes. It is not. there is probably a process of internal modification constantly going. however. negligence and the need to avoid distress cause traditional beliefs to be eroded. It is often said that 'traditional societies' are unchanging societies. even though those who make these changes believe that they still believe what they previously believed. poor harvests. the efforts of the inferior in strength and deference to protect themselves from further subjugation and indignity generate conflicts. and stupidity and recalcitrance support the resistive dispositions. Small improvements are impelled by considerations of expediency. they may regard them as contrary to that spirit. make adaptation imperative. and the agents of modification may regard them as quite within the 'spirit' of traditions. T H E G R A D U A L M O D I F I C A T I O N OF T R A D I T I O N A L N O R M S Modification is the inevitable fate of traditional norms. Modifications can also be intentional and deliberate. In other words. traditions would still be under continuous pressure toward modification. Emigration into another society and the occasional return of the emigrant bring in new conceptions. even a small and relatively isolated society. likely that any society could remain unchanged through several generations. epidemics of disease among human beings and livestock. Itinerant traders and merchants bring in new goods and new ideas. the modification of tradition has no implications regarding the self-consciousness and deliberateness of the innovation or feeling or . the antinomian tendencies and resentments against authority which are inherent in the relationships of authority. For one thing. Leaving out. These are only a few of the changes instigated from outside the social system. critical intelligence also prompts modifications in procedures which in turn produce changes in beliefs. The resistance of each new generation to the authority of the elders also causes minor modifications-and sometimes major ones. the exhaustion of resources. changes are constantly being imposed by changes in the environment. the changes might be random variations which in the course of a half century produce visible changes. is free of the pressures of military intrusion from the outside and the controls.B . Then too no society. Faulty memory.

even if incorrectly. which do not come so fully under the hegemony of these institutions. these modifications are carried further through re-enunciation and re-transmission. i. This might also be true where the modification is not intentional but where. Thus. brings about certain modifications in interpretation and application. consciously or unconsciously. they might well leave some trace of guilt and resentment on the part of those who have instigated them.e. It is much more likely to do so in so far as. . This is quite apart from the need for individuality and the strength of the impulsion toward it. all of whom have the same traditional beliefs recommended to them. the pressure for modification will be greater at the peripheries of the central institutional system. the more intense and aggressive the rejection.9 One must of course also mention once more the continuous internal pressure within the personality for the reshaping of traditionally transmitted beliefs. indeed. for one reason or another. the actual variety of personalities. uniformity. etc. Some sections of the society are more likely to accept the traditional beliefs without any modifications over them to any serious extent. despite what may be said about their conformity. it is thought to be contrary to tradition. but which are in sufficient contact with them to make the traditional 9 Nonetheless. Even dull philistines are not exactly alike. Where there exist particular institutions and associated professions for the maintenance and transmission of traditional norms. the more likely also is there to be some section of the society brought into action which affirms with equal intensity and passion the crucial elements in the family of traditional norms prevailing in the society.persistence or alienation on the part of those who are the agents and the recipients of modified traditional norms. As a result. The modification of traditional beliefs and practices proceeds at different rates throughout any society. Part of this pressure comes from the need to make them fit the individual personality system--every personality system having to some extent a modicum of uniqueness and more or less need for individuality. where intentional modifications are experienced as contrary to the spirit of the tradition. because it is sufficiently gross to be noticed by those who participate in the modification or where because of a shift in the form and name of the institution which carried out the traditional norm. where they do not actually bring about a far-reaching and deep rejection of them. other sections of society may contribute modifications from different directions. However. what they promulgate and emphasize diverges rather widely from what is normally accepted by the different sections which are themselves bringing about different forms and modes of modification. And of course there are the antinomian tendencies with which we have already dealt and these too certainly necessitate the modification of the received traditional norms. the agents of the modification believe that they have been responsible for bringing about the deviation from the traditional belief to such an extent that it appears to them to be no longer a member of the same family of traditional belief to which it formerly belonged. and within the same society there will always be some parts which reject.

the bishops. in their promulgation. the priests.TRADITION 153 beliefs partially effective influences on thought and conduct. they can be territorially peripheral. The outcome is a compromise between the culture of the centre and the culture of the periphery. In every year of human history. as are the back country or the frontier. new peripheral generations have to be incorporated into the belief system. also results in the modification of the received traditional beliefs. on the observance of traditional norms of the centre than are the peripheries. The effort to expand the area of reception of traditional belief from the centre into a hitherto peripheral group. Indeed. the poor. The institutional custodians of the traditional beliefs of the centreand they will vary according to the different institutions-usually demand a more far-reaching observance than the inhabitants of the peripheral sectors are willing to grant. recommendation and exemplification of traditional beliefs. and the judges. the working classes. This indeed is what is involved in the cultural aspect. The compromise takes the form of modifications of the peripheral traditional beliefs in the direction of the central traditional beliefs. as are the lumpenproletariat. i. linguistic. even though they too might belong to the centre of society by their kinship connections and their earlier occupational roles. than the younger generations because of their peripheral power position. some 'new class' which has not yet been fully incorporated into the traditional central value system of the society. in the course of time. the 'rank and file'. The peripheral zones which we are considering here can be ethnically peripheral but in the same territory. et al. etc. by the . the teachers in the universities and the schools. even where its elders are in the centre of society. self-sustaining existence. the centre. The power of the peripheral culture to resist obliteration by the culture of the centre is partially offset by its incapacity under most conditions of modern central government to refuse all permeative influence. of course. The expansion of centres into peripheries results in a modification of the substantive content of traditional beliefs and. the generals and the colonels in the army. They are far less important. the laity. within each institutional or sub-system of society. religious or ethnic. The young generation is always a peripheral generation.e. are usually more insistent. the politicians and the civil servants in the state. in so far as it is successful and does not precipitate passionate resistance. The oldest generations whose declining mental powers cause them to fall away from the beliefs of their mature years.. they can be peripheral in the status system. the modifications at the periphery work their way back into the centre. are another section of the society who at least in their own conduct modify the traditional beliefs which they received. the rulers. The latter have their own traditional beliefs which bear some familial likeness to those of the centre but these peripheral variants have a relatively autonomous.

e. The prestige of the sacred in any society is such.e. whenever an effort to systematize and penetrate to the more fundamental principles occurs. being convinced as they are of the truth of the doctrine. the changes will take place. G R A D U A L MODIFICATION B Y THE CUSTODIANS OF T R A D I T I O N A L BELIEFS Even in those institutions which are established to maintain and stabilize traditional beliefs on the basis of the study of sacred texts-such as theological seminaries and in law schools.154 EDWARD SHILS incorporation of the periphery into the centre. with which nominally they found no fault. codifying. however. A few pockets of the 'pure culture' of traditional beliefs-i. in the jurisdictions both of Anglo-American law and of the Civil Code-gradual modification is bound to occur. the lower the level of intelligence of the personnel of the institutions in question. The poorer the intellectual quality of the custodians. less modified culture of traditional beliefs-survive. if there are any changes introduced at all. in which such disciplined improvement is an integral part of the undertaking. Even in India. Law courts operate within a massive-and heterogeneous-tradition of enacted laws and judicial decisions. The decisive fact here is the intellectual power and the challenge which any potentially problematic phenomenon offers to a powerful intellect to improve an inherited pattern of belief and to solve the problems which are apparent to it. The strain towards 'improvement' of the traditionally received beliefs is therefore inevitable. But in the course of time. The same is true of the medieval theology and in the various codifications of the Talmud. the culture of the centre begins to yield in the opposite direction. Even where these superior intelligences believe that there is nothing wrong but wish only to strengthen and to make more clear and apparent to everyone that the truth is already contained in the doctrines which they are analysing. This is what has happened in the United States over the past one hundred and fifty years. it is what is happening in Great Britain at present. This is most obvious in science. the more likely the tradition is to be transmitted with unnoticeable changes. Each pocket or rather its circle of traditionalist spokesmen becomes a laudator temporis acti. that they can resolve these antinomies. great Indian philosophers could not resist the temptation to 'improve' the inherited doctrine. C . Theologically systematized religious traditions contain within themselves certain fundamental antinomies which can never be reconciled and which therefore constantly offer challenges to powerful minds who hope. that it cannot avoid attracting the best. This is so quite apart from any anti-authoritarian tendencies or anti-traditional tendencies in the minds and personalities of the persons in question. i. the most intelligent and imaginative minds to its care. the creativity of . systematizing and demonstrating.

Given approximate identity of problems and the same degree of attachment to the traditionally inherited body of beliefs on the part of the laity and on the part of the professionals who are specifically charged with the interpretation of the tradition. the line of the traditional belief turns into a radically different direction. against traditional beliefs. philosophers. the rate of innovation attributable to rational considerations among the professionals will exceed the rate of 'natural' modification current among the laity. 'scientific revolutions' which are drastically disjunctive do occur and find a following so that in the course of time. the laity will change more rapidly than the professionals.) The modifications introduced by intellectuals-theologians.TRADITION 155 the judges is bound and restricted by the relatively high 'sacredness' of what they have inherited but it is also given opportunities by the plurality of traditional beliefs available to them in the body of their inheritance. Relatively new beliefs emerge from this intensive scrutiny of the received and prevailing beliefs and from the application of the results of this scrutiny to particular instances. fundamental discoveries. (Where the laity is less attached to traditions than the professionals and where the professionals' traditions do not include the use of reason. these are primarily the perception of the 'unfittingness' of the traditional beliefs. Great innovators vary in the extent to which they disavow or attack the . Conversions. (The deviations from traditional beliefs in the latter are. in the traditional belief system. indifference to the traditional beliefs and animosity. Corrections or 'better interpretations' or needed adaptations are made without a sense that anything essential has been renounced. This kind of process is much less likely to occur among the non-intellectual laity. as we have said repeatedly. It takes some time until people become aware of how much they have departed from the previously prevailing tradition. likely to have quite other sources. within the framework of what is logically possible. judges of superior courts-are likely to be in the direction of the introduction of greater consistency and explicitness and a greater stress on 'underlying principles' which had hitherto been left implicit. new possibilities will be discerned. T H E T R A N S F O R M A T I O N S OF T R A D I T I O N A L BELIEFS The modification of traditional beliefs usually takes place in the form of small innovations made by many persons which are not thought to depart significantly from the traditional belief. In the course of this systematization and formalization (formal rationalization). The judges seek the 'true meaning' of the law but the existing-the received-body of laws and precedents is only the point of departure for their creative 'discovery'.) D . to the extent that they are thought to depart at all. either compulsive or expediential.

In politics there often is such a pretension of 'return'. there is usually no recourse to an earlier and better stage of the most recent tradition. claiming that they are operating entirely within the framework of the tradition which has been handed down to them. The judiciary and the law teachers. as far as the innovator is concerned. In drastic religious innovation. the innovator goes back to some distance before the most recent form of the tradition to find a strand in the past of which he is the continuation. above all. In science. Nor is there such recourse in drastic innovations in legal traditions.previously prevailing tradition. much of the past remains. about literature and art. are often found among bohemians. In the arts. in the common law areas of the world and in those areas which are governed exclusively by codes and legislation. Radical or revolutionary criticism of traditional beliefs about social organization. But in all cases of fundamental innovation. fundamental transformations in religion usually make such claims while referring to the past as a legitimation. It is less likely to originate in established or incorporated intellectual and . the agents of fundamental transformations might but have not always claimed to be invalidating all of the tradition and to be replacing it by something new. who have withdrawn from or have been excluded from the central cultural institutional system. free-lance writers and persons who have never entered. Fundamental transformations in law and in science are not total transformations and do not ordinarily claim to be such. on the other hand. although it is uncertain whether there is any relationship between the degree of fundamental novelty of the new belief and the extent to which its protagonist recommends it with a traditional legitimation. In most of these types of innovation. But how revolutionary are the revolutions which are made by great scientists and by philosophers of law like Bentham? The great transformations in science are made in accordance with certain principles which in themselves are to a large extent traditionally received. make their modifications while believing and. Radical transformations are fundamental transformations which seek explicitly to break the connection with the past and to institute an 'entirely new' pattern of belief. both among those to whom it is recommended and in the work of the fundamental innovator as well. Radicalism in the criticism of traditional beliefs in terms of standards will come primarily from outside the institutional system which is devoted to the custody and development of the traditional beliefs in question. We should perhaps distinguish these fundamental transformations in which the past not only persists at many points in the new pattern of thought but in which it is also treated in some respects as a source of legitimacy of the new beliefs from 'radical' transformations. a traditional legitimation is indispensable.

The tradition of beliefs in the sciences is gassed on from generation to generation within their own bounded communities. Nonetheless. the transformations of traditional beliefs in the natural sciences. This is much more likely to occur with respect to political and religious beliefs than with respect to the beliefs of the scientific and scholarly elites. This is less true of arts and social sciences and much less so of religious. In the course of time. The relations between the pattern of beliefs prior to a fundamental transformation and one which follows are often obscured by the idiom of the new beliefs. The new belief becomes established and traditionalized in the centre either as a result of the responsiveness of some sectors of the centre to opinion outside themselves or because of the accession to positions of authority by persons who have previously been peripheral. as well as by the antitraditional rhetoric of 'total' innovations. seminaries and churches. It is the work of intellectuals who have not fully assimilated the heavy inheritance which is transmitted by universities and academies. there is often a disjunction introduced by fundamental transformations and some of their innovations persist to be traditional beliefs in their own right. are in fact capable of extreme attenuation and perhaps even of disappearance at quite a deep level. or who even when they possess the relevant corpus of culture have not found a positive role in the institutions which carry it. the established intellectual institutions and cultural institutions assimilate into their own traditional patterns of thought much of the radical transformations which have originated from the outside.cultural institutions where the traditions are cultivated. even though the rate of change might in fact be more rapid in that sphere of traditional beliefs than in the other spheres. law schools and courts. They have acolytes but no laymen. The probability of the persistence of a radical transformation is probably . because no transformation is total and because traditional beliefs. And with respect to the latter beliefs. For these reasons. it is more likely to occur with respect to beliefs about literary and artistic (expressive things) than with respect to the natural sciences. Fundamental categories. occurring from within those who share the common-traditional-culture of science. The ostensibly wholly disjunctive and anti-traditional belief comes then to be accepted by one or more sectors of the centre. The assessment of the magnitude of a radical fundamental transformation is extremely difficult. political. Beliefs in the natural sciences have no laity to speak of. The drastic disjunctions which separate traditionally transmitted beliefs from new beliefs are often blurred by the reassertion of the traditionally transmitted beliefs in the idiom of the new beliefs. fundamental expectations often survive fundamental transformation. although often very tenacious. economic and 'moral' matters. will be more continuous with the pre-transformation beliefs.

re-establishes the same type of family system.a function of the strength of the power position in the centre of society of their chief proponents. still the traditional religious beliefs prove their capacity for survival and self-reassertion in the course of time. When after some disturbance the personality system becomes re-equilibrated. The survival of traditional beliefs in latent form during periods of disruption and displacement is also a function of the continuity of personality systems and of certain institutions. the tenacity of traditional religious beliefs rests on needs to be in contact with the sacred. The resistive capacity of traditional beliefs in the face of the pressure of an aspiring radical fundamental transformation is a function of a weak central authority. The family is the source and support of a diffuse readiness to accept traditional beliefs and the survival and recuperation of families re-establishes the conditions conducive to the reception of traditional beliefs. the needs again become effective and with them their symbolic forms. Like the tenacity of traditional beliefs resting on primordial needs. regarding rights and obligations. when it is re-equilibrated. The personality systems have a measure of toughness and. like the family and religious communities. Primordial attachments gratify the most irrepressible and ineluctable needs and for that reason such attachments are not lightly disavowed. The probability of 'catching on' is a function of the prominence and the charisma of authority and of the authorities' power to coerce the adherents of traditional beliefs into silence. between authorities and subjects of authority. namely their traditional beliefs. Even where a particular family may break down. The family manifests a greater resiliency and recuperative power than corporate bodies which are not centred on primordial qualities. Thus traditional beliefs regarding deferepce relations between classes. the rupture of the personality system. Many traditional beliefs which become assimilated into the personality system by virtue of the implicit or explicit dispositions toward authority become cathectic objects of the need-system. The bonds of kinship (the ties of blood) and affection can survive revolutions. even though they undergo a radical change during a crisis period. which manage to withstand at least partially the rapid and far-reaching changes in other spheres. even where the church and the ecclesiastical profession might actually be dissolved and public religious practice forbidden. even after periods of severe deprivation and disorganization. The diffuseness of the obligations generated by primordial attachments demand and permit a greater adaptiveness in the face of pressure from the environment. Traditional religious beliefs also have a great capacity to withstand the traumatic pressure of revolutionary crises and. they reassert themselves with most of the same properties they possessed before disruption. . settle back into an approximation to their previous pattern.

than those which (regardless of their content) are dependent on familially maintained dispositions. . specifically religious traditional beliefs have less recuperative power.Since these are more unevenly distributed in a population than primordial needs. once displaced.

You're Reading a Free Preview

/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->