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

(Apr., 1971), pp. 122-159.
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Tradition
EDWARD SHILS
Cambridge University and University of Chicago

PRELIMINARY REMARKS

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
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TRADITION

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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.

'Socialization'-the process by which a newcomer. the mechanisms which connect the various cross-sections or states of belief at a series of points in time are not treated. they have tended therefore to treat the 'historical' aspect as a residual category from which ad hoc explanations are often drawn. The conceptual structure of social science theories tends on the whole to be atemporal. 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.Yet in scrutinizing the literature of the social and cultural sciences. in temporal sequences of short duration. 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. communication is among their chief interests. Nor do they disregard communication between generations. The substantive content of traditions has been much studied but not their traditionality. Yet it is the linking mechanism and the sequential temporal pattern which are the constitutive properties of tradition. but they are seldom linked with 'tradition'. 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. There is certainly a marked tendency in contemporary social sciences for them to see their subject matters in the here and now. It is not easy to account for this omission from contemporary studies of society and culture. then that might explain why there has been no systematic treatment of the subject. one sees that there has been very little analysis of the properties of tradition. 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 that the social sciences are indifferent to 'communication'-on the contrary. the relations of two generations alive at the moment of study. I would put forward the following hypothesis: the social sciences have in the period of their recent prosperity been focused on the living. The modes and mechanisms of the traditional reproduction of beliefs are left unexamined. One possibility is that despite the frequency of its use the term means nothing at all. . In the latter. If social scientists and social philosophers took either of these positions. But the fact that neither of these views is generally espoused among social scientists prompts me to look for other explanations. 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. This being so.

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

they are a consensus through time.g. What a person believes at any point in time is in a sense transmitted to him by himself. they might make no reference to past or future) and they might not even have a temporal (traditional) legitimation. i. 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. the extent to which the beliefs themselves refer to the past and to which their legitimation refers to the past. But even then. in reality complete independence is unlikely. It becomes part by being referred to in its pastness as a model (e. In their content they might well be atemporal (i.e.g. 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.'given' to him.e. How far they extend into the past is another matter-their 'givenness' might or might not include reference to their 'pastness' and its extent. 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). pre-existent and not newly created by the person who believes in it. 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. This structural property of traditional belief is distinct from the substantive properties of the beliefs. They are continuations of a past which has preceded him. a traditional belief? Rather than to attempt to answer this question directly. i. They are beliefs with a sequential social structure. Is every belief which is given. Traditions are beliefs with a particular social structure.2 The belief itself. It would be an 'intrapersonal' tradition. 'Intrapersonal traditions' are closely connected with interpersonal traditions. I shall follow a more roundabout path.e. 'we should do as we have done before') or by becoming part of the legitimation (e. 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. 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. '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'). It is also distinct from mode of acceptance. Although analytically the temporal structure of traditional belief or action is independent of its being taken into the substance of the belief.e. believed) it even prior to that earlier point. they have a temporal structure. .

3 Filiation entails not only handing down but receiving as well. because they are rediscovered in the confrontation of experiences which are themselves stable and recurrent. . even if we could obtain a satisfactory measure of the critical minimum frequency of recurrence necessary for the constitution of a tradition. 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. its present acceptance. 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. Acceptance or performance in the past must have some causal or necessary connection with its acceptance or performance in the present. We often speak of the traditional acceptance of a belief as an unthinking 3 Actions are not handed down. to the previousness of its occurrence. Recurrence or identity through time is not as such the decisive criterion of traditional belief or action. we might justifiably refuse to call the belief in rules excogitated and promulgated anew in each generation of users a traditional belief. is not sufficient. Hence a 'statistical' criterion of recurrence alone. for example. 'handing downY. Filiation entails transmission. i. It is not the intertemporal identity of beliefs or actions which constitutes a tradition.action. could conceivably be rediscovered by every generation out of the need for classifying and enumerating to solve the tasks of everyday life. of a traditional action that it has been performed previously. generation after generation.e. Frequency of recurrence is a constitutive element but is not sufficient to define a traditional belief (or action). Both handing down or recommending are susceptible to various motives. There are beliefs which might be believed recurrently. Thus even though one-perhaps the chief-constitutive feature of a traditional belief is that it has been believed previously. and since the occurrence in the present is not a function of biological structure or genetic endowment. only their models. generation after generation. Likewise. 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. 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. rules and legitimations are. it must be mediated through the perception of pastness. The elementary rules of arithmetic. 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. it is the intertemporal$liation of beliefs which is constitutive.

In any case. In many cases the charismatic content itself is tied to pastness. On the contrary. The intricate interconnections between rational. the charismatic events occurred in the past and adherence . i. Beliefs which are rationally recommended and received and which are not in that sense traditional do enter into and form traditions. they are accepted without analysis by the acceptor of the grounds on which they could be demonstrated. Or again it might entail the discovery of a new pattern of belief by the application of criteria which are unthinkingly accepted.acceptance of a belief previously accepted by others.e. with respect to the legitimacy of those who conduct the institutions within the beliefs are promulgated. even if they are not substantively traditional. Beliefs about sacred things can be transmitted and accepted 'unthinkingly'. A belief which refers to sacred things can be structurally traditional. it can be in part rational as well as charismatic. Their traditionality is less homogeneous or pervasive than that of beliefs which are substantively traditional. 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. Scientific and technological beliefs are often 'unthinkingly' accepted. Their traditionality may obtain with respect to the criteria for the determination of what is to be believed. 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. but there is a zone in the beliefs themselves which is in itself free of traditionality.e. It is a rational (and empirical) zone. The unthinking or 'unconscious' acceptance of beliefs which in their substance are rationally and empirically demonstrable as true is a real possibility. i. Alternatively the model might be accepted after scrutiny to determine whether it conforms with certain criteria which are themselves unthinkingly accepted. that they have been accepted in the past. such beliefs about charismatic things are most often transmitted traditionally. Such beliefs are clearly traditional in their formal properties. they are recommended largely and are accepted largely on traditional grounds. The unthinkingness of the acceptance might be tantamount to the acceptance of the model of the already existent as a whole. 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. a fully traditional belief is one which is accepted without being assessed by any criterion other than its having been believed before. empirical and 'traditional' traditions constitute a major problem in the study of tradition.

. which means transmission to a succeeding generation. are authoritative even where they utter no command. Its authority depends on its immediately present contact with the source of its authority or validity. Its persuasiveness rests on the immediacy of the link to the source of charisma which reception provides. Its 'pastness' is then joined to its charisma as the grounds for the claims which are made for its acceptance and observance 2. etc. Yet in the course of the process of 'routinization'.. 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. This was what Max Weber meant when he spoke of charisma as being revolutionary and anti-traditional. a belief recommended by a concentratedly and intensely charismatic individual has no past. 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. The simple perception. The anonymous 'they'. into a massive performance touches something deep in the human mind.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. as do those who are alive and present. it suspends the sense of separate existences. The Present as the Reinforcement of Responsiveness to the Past The property of statistical frequency-sheer massive factuality. present and past-has a penetrating impact on the behaviour of those who perceive it. It works because it entails a perception of the quality resident in other minds and this perception opens the mind to a 'contagious' effect. In principle. 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. There is something like this at work in the traditional reception of a belief. 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. 'everybody'. In traditional transmission and reception. 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. or rather entry through imagination. Those who have a quality of pastness about them 'count'. the conimunis opinio embraces the past as well as the present. This is true both of contemporaneous events and events occurring in extended temporal filiations. Through the sharing of an idea. charisma becomes 'traditionalized'. 'Pastness' becomes important as the link to the charismatic source which becomes increasingly remote temporally.

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. like the need for community with those present. . the mechanisms which operate in the generation of consensus among contemporaries are also operative in traditional reception. to their widespread acceptance by other persons to an extent which hampers the imaginative generation of plausible alternative beliefs. 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. this kind of reception reinforces reception on the basis of 'pastness'. beliefs and events which are recommended both authoritatively and consensually. the combination varies from a very high degree of 'pastness' and a small degree of 'consensuality' to their opposite. The sheer. this kind of reception. The need for the transcendence of the boundaries of the empirical self. 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. Much of the reception of beliefs inherited from the past is to be attributed simply to the massive fact of their presence. 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. 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. which we shall call 'consensual reception'.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. In some respects. There is also a need to be in contact with them-not with all who have ever lived but selectively. '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. The two bases of reception are almost always concomitant. In other words. is a variant of the need to be part of an order which is infused with meaning.g. Where the elders offer traditional legitimation (e. In any given particular situation in which long recurrent beliefs are widely accepted. 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. The need for continuity with those past.

Their adherents or performers are no longer present. whereas living and present contemporaries. if they are no longer living. it is not as exigent in its demand for attention as an action performed in the present. might make unpleasant the lives of those who are indifferent to them. But this is not so with respect to events of 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. of visibility. there will remain the question as to why the pastness has any significance. A particular relationship to the individual or collective performers or believers in the past is called for. to accept it as a mandatory model for one's own conduct and the judgment of others. it cannot contain everything. are not capable of doing damage. Then too. if their actions and the norms which the actions imply are disregarded. Its past performers or believers. extends and fortifies memory beyond the beginnings of the living generation. at least in some part. It might also. Yet there is undoubtedly more to it than this.TRADITION I31 3. 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 large part of the things which human beings at any one time value is bound to be in the past. Important though the present is. Even though it is said by the living that the events in question were very frequent in the past. mythological or truthful. 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. in any empirically plausible way. not wholly unreasonably. be contended that given the facts of memory and discriminating evaluation. 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. Granted that human beings have memories and that historiography. 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. The Past as an Object o Attachment f The effectiveness of frequency of belief or action in the present is a function. why should the past be significant ? Obviously a great charismatic exemplar counts for more than a fairly considerable number of anonymous performers or believers. to the persons who will not heed their 'lessons'. '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 . lineages or corporate bodies. given the deficiencies of imaginative powers of most human beings.

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. elders continue to have preponderance of influence for a substantial period. 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. 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. Even in such societies. even where 'pastness' is not explicitly invoked as a ground for the reception of a belief. even where no reference is made to the 'pastness' of the belief proposed and accepted. 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. Thus. 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. and quite apart from the formal and substantive properties of the belief itself. As long as there are 'careers'. The asymmetrical interaction permits the younger ones. 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. 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. 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. 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. Much of consensual reception is in large part traditional reception. the origin of time. 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. 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. .action affected with pastness. 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. to share in these past states of mind which are embodied and symbolized by their elders. to some extent. the earlier the beginning of the downward curve of the influence of advancing age. It is in other words not just a matter of passive reception of the given. those who enter earlier will have advantages not simultaneously available to those who have entered later. the recipient is responsive to the proffered belief on the grounds of its pastness.

TRADITION I33 also appears in a more independent form.e. 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. Some reception can be based on reasoned argument regarding the merits and consequences of the belief. empirical evidence. THE PROPERTIES OF T R A D I T I O N A L BELIEFS 1. which have broken the lines of effective traditional transmission with the point of origin. 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. 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. The sought-for tradition is sometimes said to be the 'real' tradition or the genuine source of contemporary 'dilapidated' traditions. The Formal Properties of Traditional Beliefs Traditional beliefs are any beliefs which are part of a tradition of belief. what is significant is that he believes that it did so exist. 'Renaissances' are the characteristic form of this rehabilitated tradition. etc. The whole phenomenon bears a close relationship to presumed 'Golden Ages'. i. 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. 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'. of a sequential chain of beliefs with which they possess an identity or close resemblance. 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. 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. vouched for by the authoritativeness of their prior existence and the authority of those who recommend them. 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. . 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. immediately given traditional beliefs are unsatisfactory-who are in search of traditional beliefs to which to attach themselves. B . Traditions are sometimes sought for.

reception through concentrated and disciplined preparatory study rather than through reception in the context of ongoing performance. however scientific that belief. The levels of modification. flexibilitylrigidity. particularity/generality . and precision introduces some measure of modification. i. casuistry and 'normal science'). oral transmission as against written transmission. 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'. there are certain properties which tend to be generated in them in consequence of their traditionality. 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. they need not express appreciation of the past in order to be recommended and accepted for their connection with the past. or that they become traditionalized in the same way. Oral. the greater the degree of mandatoriness. For example. acquire certain determinate properties. Transmission which refers to written texts of belief is conducive to precision. . mandatoriness/permissiveness. this leaves room for interpretation. coherence/disjunctiveness.g. The longer the presumed chain of traditionality. Traditional transmission of written beliefs tends towards modification in the direction of greater particularity as well as precision (e. Whatever the substantive content of the beliefs. does not render it immune to becoming part of a tradition and of being transmitted traditionally. The content of a belief. Yet even written transmission cannot be exhaustive in its prescriptions . Some of the formal properties of beliefs and patterns of belief are precision/ vagueness .I34 EDWARD S H I L S Thus every and any belief can be a traditional belief. experiment or revelation. exemplary transmission seems to be more permissive than exposition from a written text. They can claim to legitimate their actions by reference to law in conformity with present popular will. by the fact of their traditional transmission. transmission in the context of unspecialized institutions rather than through specialized institutions. 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.e. They can indeed disparage the past and praise the present and the future. This does not mean that beliefs and the norms of action which become 'given' do not by the fact of their 'givenness'. Flexibility is the extent of modification or the capacity for modification of a belief or a pattern of belief through time. The beliefs which become traditionalized need contain no substantive reference to the past. The length of the chain of traditionality and the mode of transmission are further determinants of the properties which substantive beliefs acquire.

A tradition can have a continuous or a discontinuous structure. 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 Substantive Properties of Traditional Beliefs In addition to the structural character of traditions and the formal properties of traditionally transmitted beliefs. Beliefs which have died away and have apparently ceased to have a wide adherence are capable of renewal. The legitimation of a traditional . i. The models which are deferred to are not those which are immediately antecedent. Although all beliefs can be traditional (in structure and in mode of transmission). thus learning in the context of performance might permit greater and more continuous modification of a pattern of belief than learning by disciplined study. details or framework. 2. the former might permit more gradual modification of the framework of a pattern of belief through gradual modification of details. For example.g.e. 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. Different structures of traditional transmission will hypothetically each produce a corresponding set of characteristic formal properties. 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. of finding once more a widespread acceptance ('Renaissances'). are less likely to do so than are those which are substantively traditional. The latter will permit modification of details through specification. All I do here is to indicate the problem. 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. Beliefs which are not substantively traditional. there are some which are traditional in substance. 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. Oral transmission might permit more modification through an extended period of time than transmission on the basis of a given written text. can change at different rates. What are the properties of substantively traditional beliefs ? Traditionality of legitimation is one of these. we must consider the properties of substantively traditional beliefs. The degree and level of modification might be affected by the mode of transmission. although they too are susceptible to possess traditional structure and transmission.TRADITION 135 e.

Not all legitimations of traditionally transmitted beliefs give central prominence to their past existence. not criticized and simply perpetuated. ethical beliefs which do not refer to the past and which support themselves empirically. by reference to their pastness. 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. Rational and charismatic legitimation are likewise possible. reception and observance becomes more frequent. i. to some particular time in the past or to a whole social system or to particular institutions which (allegedly) existed in the past. Traditional beliefs are beliefs which contain an attachment to the past. 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. Once living bodies of knowledge could continue to exist as dead subjects. all of these beliefs about the superiority of the past to the present. They could conceivably be entirely legitimated by the invocation of the 'tradition' of which they are a part. acceptance. they are 'there'. adherence and observance. observance or origin. there is nothing to do but to accept them.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. promulgation. In their most elementary form. rationally. not examined. No alternatives are conceived. political. 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. but in that case they would cease to be what we know them to have been.e. Scientific. It is likely that certain branches of knowledge occasionally and transiently fall into this condition. 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 . religious. traditionally transmitted beliefs are recommended and received 'unthinkingly'. the reference to the 'pastness' of their origin. In principle. 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.

Holy men and priests are prized by traditional attitudes as is the learning of sacred texts. they are the beliefs of the Gemeinschaft. They are expressed in empirical technology rather than rational-scientific technology. towards the elders and ancestors but also to the invisible powers which control earthly life.5 These considerations now lead us to the positive content of traditional beliefs. The traditional attitude is a god-fearing attitude. They express an attitude of piety not only towards earthly authorities. 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. 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.belief as long as it is located in the past. above all the primordial collectivities of lineage. Traditional beliefs of the substantive sort have no place for rational scientific theory or the results of scientific research. Traditional beliefs are deferential. painting. Regardless of its substantive content any age or society has the capacity to arouse the affections of its successor. near or remote. and to provide them with a criterion for judging their own contemporaries and the society in which they live. They are particularistic in the sense that they recommend the primacy of obligations and attachments to bounded collectivities. Magic supplements empirical technique as a means of coping with the vicissitudes of earthly existence. ethnicity and the cultural sublimations of primordial ties in linguistic communities and national societies. Traditional beliefs enjoin ceremonialritual performances. They are beliefs in the virtue of authority. silverware. . of the folk or peasant societies. locality. 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. about a regime of individualism-and so it in fact was in the Roman Empire. 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. 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. 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. It could be about an equalitarian regime. of respect for age and the rightful allocation of the highest authority to the aged. These have often been described by sociologists and anthropologists. tribe. about a republic. The use of techniques of the control and transformation of nature tends to be stereotypical.

Authority possesses the quality of sacredness and is exercised by elders. 11. 'that is the way in which we have always done it'. 'that is the way they used to do it'. through whom 'the past' is transmitted and by whom attachments to the past are fostered. Its institutions have usually been received as given. One fundamental ground for traditional reception norm is awe before the sacred in the past. teachers. There is an authority inhering in symbols which derive their weight and force through their connection with persons formerly existent. The sacredness of things can be timeless. 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. By the sacred. 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. They may be 'founding fathers' whose importance has become detached from their names. 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. who once filled certain roles or were members of the collectivity at an earlier stage in one's history. with decisive events. Not all authority is traditional authority. in which the past or the future has a special significance.substantive properties of traditional beliefs could be extended but this is not necessary at this point. They may become sublimated into maxims and phrases. THE SACREDNESS OF THE PAST There are numerous grounds for the reception of the beliefs which are given. non-human world. It has . adults. They may be ancestors without names who have even in the course of time become completely disembodied and are now simply 'the past'. Sacredness can be a property of individuals or of collectivities or of the external physical. to do what he has to do. Unimaginative acceptance of the given is joined by fear of authority. it can be so while still having a temporal component. here I mean those events and 'power' to which ultimate importance is attributed. like 'that is the way which it has always been done'. by parents. with 'great moments' which shaped what came later. the desire to be consensual and a desire to be somehow connected with the past. legitimate and substantive senses. Sacred beliefs are beliefs about the things which are thought to be most vital and most basic to existence. but most authority has a traditional element in the structural. 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 . Their sheer existence makes a model available to an actor who must find a way to act. continuously operative.

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

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

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

These rejections. 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'. occur in situations in which the beliefs recommended have not been previously accepted. But it can also be inhibited by the . 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. Where the hitherto prevailing authorities have failed to exercise their authority in an effective manner and where expectations are not gratified. 'out of date'. etc. The authorities who recommended the traditional beliefs lose their deference-position and those traditional beliefs with which they are associated. They gradually turn into new beliefs which still retain some of the idiom of the old beliefs and a little of their content. 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. C . The need to be in contact with contemporaries and what is 'up to date' in them bespeaks a temporal sensibility. 'behind the times'. Much more frequent are the rejections which derive from the unfittingness of the traditional belief to newly acquired beliefs and practices. but their acceptance becomes more attenuated. more intermittent and more blurred. quite apart from those which have become 'unfitting'. 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. I N D I V I D U A L I T Y . also lose their capacity to elicit acceptance. however. many traditional beliefs become 'unfitting' and either become attenuated or are transformed.There are many other motives and conditions for the rejection of recommended traditions. Where ecological and technological changes render possible or irresistible changes in modes of work and structure of kinship. The beliefs might not under those circumstances be explicitly renounced. the hitherto established and received traditional beliefs cease to be 'fitting'. of being 'old-fashioned'. Just as in some situations it is thought that the past was the repository of what is good and true. 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. New situations which create new problems and which offer new gratifications and possibilities of gratification render previously accepted beliefs implausible and disadvantageous.

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

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

But not only creative persons who seek to do something positive deflect and change the 'direction' of a tradition. they too are bound by the 'given' framework within which they have their point of departure. the very idiom of rejection. For one thing. 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. although imported . They are seldom if ever complete antinomians and so they leave intact some things of the tradition against which they revolt. however. It is at best only relatively new-although some new things are newer than others. The fact remains that completely disjunctive novelty in the sphere of belief is out of the question. When the old 'normal' tradition arouses enmity and is deserted. less prominent tradition into which he might. 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 creation within a relatively short time of relatively new traditions is the work of strong personalities-charismatic persons. introduce a small variant. The recipients of the new variant may actually believe that they are accepting totally new beliefs. Moreover. 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 might indeed be unaware of its existence. can never be a totally new tradition.TRADITION 145 a powerful influence on those who come after him that it could be said that a new tradition has been created. if he is strong enough. it yields some of the 'centre' to a previously marginal tradition. 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. etc. 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. 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. But these observations refer only to the image of novelty among those who receive a relatively new variant of a tradition. But antinomians are no more capable of creating a wholly new tradition than are geniuses. The consciousness of accepting a relatively new or a newly traditional belief. The element to which the loyalty is newly drawn has not been predominant. Even this departure. geniuses. The antinomian rejects only the 'normal' traditional norms and attaches himself to another. is of course variable.

Every system of thought. scholarship. Science is a continuously. arising from their confrontation by exceptional intelligence and imagination. 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 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. Thus they can hamper innovations . which are in their turn to become traditional.from some other society where it was either a marginal or a central belief. 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. This is said to be the genuine tradition of which the recently received form was a degradation. produced through the power of the human mind working under the discipline of training within the framework of its own traditions. No system of thought. 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. The creative powers themselves cause the breakdown of the hitherto traditionally transmitted beliefs. Some of the protectors and custodians of the displaced belief become passionate exponents of a 'revived' tradition. literature and art have a different source. 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. the charismatic generation of the new beliefs. innovations in traditional beliefs and procedures in science. They can control the recruitment. every creative pattern which exists has such possibilities inherent in it. 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. These are subjected to modification in consequence of the disclosure of new possibilities in the traditionally received beliefs. is accompanied by a high state of intensity of attachment to the sacred things ostensibly neglected by the 'superseded' tradition. Both those who recommend the displacement of the once recommended traditional belief and those who recommend its observance in purified form are innovators. 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. no pattern of expressive objectivation is ever wholly closed. partially self-dissolving and self-reorganizing pattern. they are 'traditionalists'. In either case.

inconsistencies. modifications will necessarily be made. within the . The literary man can go back to the Marquis de Sade or Count de LautrCaumont. 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.e. 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. There is already a wide variety of forms. a powerful intelligence or imagination will perceive flaws in it and possible improvements. still innovations must necessarily be made and are always being made. Within that category.in the traditional patterns of belief. The structure of mind is such that once receiving what appears to be settled. lyrical or epic verse. Sometimes they are made with the intention of reaffirming and insisting on the coherence and validity of what has been traditionally received. 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. narrative. There is more 'room for manoeuvre' in the former. They will only cease to grow when they are totally disregarded and no strong mind ever concerns itself with them. etc. It is the ineluctable fate of every system of thought and every pattern of expression. Creative innovations in literary traditions and artistic production have a different structure from creative innovations in traditional scientific and scholarly beliefs. But in so far as restless human intelligence confronts these systems which claim to be closed and settled. within the categories of verse. not all of them equally current or recommended at the moment. The scientist is not free to draw his substantive inspiration from Galileo or Newton and to disregard what his contemporaries have done. Every pattern of symbolic objectivation has within it an inherent potentiality for transformation in a limited number of directions. incompatibilities.) The artist or literary man accepts a prevailing form in so far as it is 'fitting' to his ambitions. in which his 'genius' can find some sort of accommodation. 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. the painter can go back to Hieronymus Bosch and no one will raise an eyebrow at him. i. In the latter. 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. (Nowadays he will even be praised for such a selection from among the traditions which are available to him. We may even say.

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. or the portrait. But even those. philosophy) do not rest on past achievement. are constantly being regenerated and renewed. unlike science. they do have their point of departure in them. change the direction of tradition by providing new elements to be assimilated into the previously prevailing tradition. like Ulysses. Of course. If they are strong. Alfred Weber thought that cultural accomplishments (art. . he tries to view and see and express what he has seen and felt in himself. the landscape or still life.novel or short story. (Some innovations do not find extension as a new tradition because they are too difficult to practise. Alfred Weber. 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. Much of it is imitative of a creation which transforms. he will modify the received genre as well as express his own substantive viewpoint and sensibility. originally printed in Archiv fuer Sozialwissenschaft. it is discriminatingly assimilated and extended. he will accept what is given and work within it. 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. Institutions generally are not and have not been foyers of originality. 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. 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. If his creative powers are weak. Prinzipielles zur Kultursoziologie. not all of the refusal of a traditional form within a genre is creative. does not simply disappear. when this happens. the modern culture of originality or genius is greatly favoured by the relatively uninstitutionalized system of training and qualification of writers and artists. An inherited form. In literature and in painting and sculpture. a 'new' tradition has been created.)s Modern culture. encourages a free attitude towards the tradition of objectivations. 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. If the naturalistic novel has ceased to be a fertile form through which the imagination expresses itself. which dominate for a time at least the attention of those who will later seek to produce works of their own. if it has had great works accomplished in it. literature. 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. Cf.

the weight of tradition within them is very great and correspondingly the restraint on spontaneity is also very great. the great work of Ramanujan is to some extent a psychological and historical curiosity. 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. In order to achieve what they do. 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. the large body of scientific and humanistic knowledge. Nonetheless. this traditional restraint.refusal of traditional beliefs only in response to the exigencies of external situations and even then frequently against internal resistance. His great creative powers then had a few years in which to add to the stock of mathematical knowledge. In literature. 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. The custodians of literary and artistic traditions are less exigent and less powerful in imposing their expectations. universities which in their beginnings were intended to rediscover the wisdom of the past. a man of Ramanujan's exceptional genius would have been less handicapped by his institutional isolation. The less talented and the moderately endowed would be astray much of the time. have become major bearers of the tradition of the creative modification and extension of traditional belief. 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. Consequently.e. The literary and artistic worlds with all their cliques and tyrannies are freer than the scientific and scholarly worlds because they . 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. Without. because he rediscovered.e. without the inculcation of this vast body of what has already been achieved. They would make many more false starts than they do and the best of them would often only rediscover what is already known. in the presence of the culture of originality. these institutions must inculcate and accept a massive corpus of traditional beliefs. however. to reaffirm it and transmit it. the creative powers of the young scientists and scholars would agitate themselves randomly and arbitrarily in a sterile void. They would have no platform to stand on and from which to depart. i. Thus. i. 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.

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. oriented as they are to the maximization of returns and guided by the principle of efficiency.and international markets. technological innovations too have their point of departure in what has previously been received. political conditions and the appearance of new competitors. They were driven to make innovations. but of deeper analytical penetration. Modern economic enterprises. research institutes and scientific and scholarly journals. it is these institutions which make possible a continuous extension of the traditions of their subjects and the continuous accumulation. are also innovative institutions. but for the time being the desire to invent something new is directed to one element rather than to the others. at least temporarily. which forced them to make innovations to satisfy new demands and to deal with changes in the supply and price of labour. These are usually traditions which entail attachments to practices and to beliefs accepted in the past. The more the responsible authorities of a firm try to benefit from research on processes and products. . businessmen too have their traditions. 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. 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. Traditions of firms. 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. Like innovations in scientific traditions. there are traditions of innovation of how to adapt to external changes and of the need to initiate changes. But alongside these. enterprisers were innovators. raw materials. even before research became integral to larger business organizations. Criticized though they have nearly always been for their lack of piety towards the past. not just of fact. the rest of the traditionally given practices being accepted. traditions of workmanship. They take for granted that which they are not seeking to modify. Nonetheless. technology. 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.have neither the consensus nor the authoritative institutions of universities. The institutionalization of research on processes and products guarantees this at present but. Of course. They take very much of it for granted. traditions of ways to deal with colleagues and competitors.

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

i. . and within the same society there will always be some parts which reject. for one reason or another. it is thought to be contrary to tradition. these modifications are carried further through re-enunciation and re-transmission. 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. 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. As a result. 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. 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. indeed. Even dull philistines are not exactly alike. all of whom have the same traditional beliefs recommended to them.e.9 One must of course also mention once more the continuous internal pressure within the personality for the reshaping of traditionally transmitted beliefs. the actual variety of personalities. the pressure for modification will be greater at the peripheries of the central institutional system.persistence or alienation on the part of those who are the agents and the recipients of modified traditional norms. other sections of society may contribute modifications from different directions. 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. they might well leave some trace of guilt and resentment on the part of those who have instigated them. The modification of traditional beliefs and practices proceeds at different rates throughout any society. despite what may be said about their conformity. It is much more likely to do so in so far as. 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. but which are in sufficient contact with them to make the traditional 9 Nonetheless. consciously or unconsciously. Thus. etc. where they do not actually bring about a far-reaching and deep rejection of them. even if incorrectly. This is quite apart from the need for individuality and the strength of the impulsion toward it. brings about certain modifications in interpretation and application. where intentional modifications are experienced as contrary to the spirit of the tradition. the more intense and aggressive the rejection. uniformity. However. Where there exist particular institutions and associated professions for the maintenance and transmission of traditional norms. This might also be true where the modification is not intentional but where. Some sections of the society are more likely to accept the traditional beliefs without any modifications over them to any serious extent. which do not come so fully under the hegemony of these institutions.

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

e. This is what has happened in the United States over the past one hundred and fifty years. 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. the more likely the tradition is to be transmitted with unnoticeable changes. This is most obvious in science. the most intelligent and imaginative minds to its care. the changes will take place. codifying. Even in India. however. The strain towards 'improvement' of the traditionally received beliefs is therefore inevitable. The prestige of the sacred in any society is such. 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. that it cannot avoid attracting the best. Each pocket or rather its circle of traditionalist spokesmen becomes a laudator temporis acti. This is so quite apart from any anti-authoritarian tendencies or anti-traditional tendencies in the minds and personalities of the persons in question. in which such disciplined improvement is an integral part of the undertaking. A few pockets of the 'pure culture' of traditional beliefs-i. with which nominally they found no fault. i. But in the course of time. it is what is happening in Great Britain at present. in the jurisdictions both of Anglo-American law and of the Civil Code-gradual modification is bound to occur. that they can resolve these antinomies. less modified culture of traditional beliefs-survive. whenever an effort to systematize and penetrate to the more fundamental principles occurs. 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 lower the level of intelligence of the personnel of the institutions in question. being convinced as they are of the truth of the doctrine. The poorer the intellectual quality of the custodians. Law courts operate within a massive-and heterogeneous-tradition of enacted laws and judicial decisions. the culture of the centre begins to yield in the opposite direction.e. systematizing and demonstrating. great Indian philosophers could not resist the temptation to 'improve' the inherited doctrine. the creativity of . C . The same is true of the medieval theology and in the various codifications of the Talmud. 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. if there are any changes introduced at all.

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. either compulsive or expediential. the laity will change more rapidly than the professionals. Great innovators vary in the extent to which they disavow or attack the . Conversions. in the traditional belief system.) The modifications introduced by intellectuals-theologians. 'scientific revolutions' which are drastically disjunctive do occur and find a following so that in the course of time. within the framework of what is logically possible.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. fundamental discoveries. as we have said repeatedly. new possibilities will be discerned. the rate of innovation attributable to rational considerations among the professionals will exceed the rate of 'natural' modification current among the laity. 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'. 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.) D . (The deviations from traditional beliefs in the latter are. these are primarily the perception of the 'unfittingness' of the traditional beliefs. to the extent that they are thought to depart at all. In the course of this systematization and formalization (formal rationalization). Corrections or 'better interpretations' or needed adaptations are made without a sense that anything essential has been renounced. 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. philosophers. (Where the laity is less attached to traditions than the professionals and where the professionals' traditions do not include the use of reason. indifference to the traditional beliefs and animosity. This kind of process is much less likely to occur among the non-intellectual laity. the line of the traditional belief turns into a radically different direction. likely to have quite other sources. It takes some time until people become aware of how much they have departed from the previously prevailing tradition. 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. against traditional beliefs.

as far as the innovator is concerned. who have withdrawn from or have been excluded from the central cultural institutional system. But in all cases of fundamental innovation. much of the past remains. 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. both among those to whom it is recommended and in the work of the fundamental innovator as well. a traditional legitimation is indispensable. Radical or revolutionary criticism of traditional beliefs about social organization. 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. In drastic religious innovation. 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. on the other hand. make their modifications while believing and. It is less likely to originate in established or incorporated intellectual and . in the common law areas of the world and in those areas which are governed exclusively by codes and legislation. 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. fundamental transformations in religion usually make such claims while referring to the past as a legitimation. In science. In the arts. 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. In politics there often is such a pretension of 'return'. Radical transformations are fundamental transformations which seek explicitly to break the connection with the past and to institute an 'entirely new' pattern of belief. The judiciary and the law teachers. 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. Fundamental transformations in law and in science are not total transformations and do not ordinarily claim to be such. claiming that they are operating entirely within the framework of the tradition which has been handed down to them. Nor is there such recourse in drastic innovations in legal traditions. above all.previously prevailing tradition. there is usually no recourse to an earlier and better stage of the most recent tradition. are often found among bohemians. free-lance writers and persons who have never entered. about literature and art. In most of these types of innovation.

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

. namely their traditional beliefs. Even where a particular family may break down. still the traditional religious beliefs prove their capacity for survival and self-reassertion in the course of time. even where the church and the ecclesiastical profession might actually be dissolved and public religious practice forbidden. 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. Like the tenacity of traditional beliefs resting on primordial needs. The personality systems have a measure of toughness and. even after periods of severe deprivation and disorganization.a function of the strength of the power position in the centre of society of their chief proponents. even though they undergo a radical change during a crisis period. the needs again become effective and with them their symbolic forms. 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. Thus traditional beliefs regarding deferepce relations between classes. re-establishes the same type of family system. 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 manifests a greater resiliency and recuperative power than corporate bodies which are not centred on primordial qualities. Traditional religious beliefs also have a great capacity to withstand the traumatic pressure of revolutionary crises and. the tenacity of traditional religious beliefs rests on needs to be in contact with the sacred. The bonds of kinship (the ties of blood) and affection can survive revolutions. when it is re-equilibrated. 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. Primordial attachments gratify the most irrepressible and ineluctable needs and for that reason such attachments are not lightly disavowed. settle back into an approximation to their previous pattern. like the family and religious communities. they reassert themselves with most of the same properties they possessed before disruption. 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 diffuseness of the obligations generated by primordial attachments demand and permit a greater adaptiveness in the face of pressure from the environment. When after some disturbance the personality system becomes re-equilibrated. which manage to withstand at least partially the rapid and far-reaching changes in other spheres. regarding rights and obligations.

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

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