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Tradition and Respect

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Tradition and Respect

Postby Raya » Sun Jul 13, 2003 2:39 pm

What does it mean to say:<br />I respect (a) tradition<br /><br />Do I have to follow a tradition to respect it?<br />If no - why must I "when in Rome, do as the Romans do"?<br />If yes - does that mean I am incapable of respecting traditions I do not follow?<br /><br />Is tradition something which can be seen - behaviours we perform in certain circumstances?<br />Is it these observable things alone, or does it also comprise the significance of these things?<br />What if I satisfy the meaning but fail to do the observable?<br />What if I do the observable, but failing to give significance to the meaning?<br /><br />Can I follow a tradition without respecting it?
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Re:Tradition and Respect

Postby vinobrien » Mon Jul 14, 2003 3:42 pm

I respect people who run marathons, but there's no way I'm running after them.
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Re:Tradition and Respect

Postby Carola » Mon Jul 14, 2003 11:15 pm

I suppose marriage would be the best example of "following a tradition without respecting it". Most of us promise a lifetime contract but use the escape clause after several years! <br />I think traditions are good "ideals" but we humans are.... well, very human. That phrase probably says it all but I shudder to think what will happen to humanity if we ever abandon our traditions and ideals. <br />Of course, some traditions are just there to give us a nice warm fuzzy glow, ie Christmas trees, birthday cakes etc. Every year I put up a tree - it has to be artificial as it is the middle of summer here and real pine trees wilt! Total nonsense but I have to keep up the Yule tradition of my northern ancestors. But I don't "respect" this tradition, it is just a pleasant reminder of Christmas. When "traditions" start to make our lives miserable then they should be abandoned immediately before they turn into chains.<br />
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Re:Tradition and Respect

Postby Emma_85 » Wed Jul 16, 2003 4:16 pm

you can certainly follow traditions with out respecting them, but today most people just choose not to follow traditions they don't respect. our society is much more open today.
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Re:Tradition and Respect

Postby Carola » Wed Jul 16, 2003 11:05 pm

but today most people just choose not to follow traditions they don't respect. our society is much more open today. <br /><br />Which probably explains why we still have traditional weddings and schools have "formals". Thinking that the new generation has "escaped from tradition" is often an illusion - the only new thing around most of the time is the clothes people are wearing! (And with most weddings that hasn't changed very much either)<br /><br />It sometimes gets depressing seeing history repeat itself over and over again; wars, dictators, repression. Only when we break those sorts of traditions will humanity evolve.<br /><br />This all sounds a bit gloomy for a sunny Thursday morning - I think I need the "traditional" cup of coffee!
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Re:Tradition and Respect

Postby dneril » Wed Jul 16, 2003 11:12 pm

Carola makes a good point, and yet comes to the wrong conclusion.<br /><br />Tradition is synonymous with culture, correct?<br /><br />And culture can be defined as one of the following three:<br />a) physical appearance<br />b) rituals - e.g. the arts<br />c) values/ideals<br /><br />The person that would identify culture as being either of the first two options is the same person who is only concerned with the superficial. How a person looks and what his possessions look like are inconsequential in the long run - purely aesthetic, purely dependant on opinion, and thus purely superficial. We cannot debate the superficial, though, can we? The people who accept all cultures and respect all traditions usually think of culture and tradition in these terms, although they may not say it per se. Because of this view, acceptance is inevitable - and by no means wrong. Really, how can I criticize a person's taste in art by saying it is 'wrong'? I can't, and neither can anyone else, because art is not an issue of right or wrong, but only of taste.<br /><br />But the third definition of tradition and culture differs greatly from these first two. If tradition is an ideology, then every man has every right to reject every opposition and to frown upon any that is not his own. For ideology is the core of man, it defines his principles; and principles govern the way a man thinks, and the way a man thinks governs his actions and his way of life. A person's ideology tells him what is "right" and "wrong" -- and to accept every culture by the definition of an ideology -- is to accept every definition of "right" and "wrong", and to thus have no value system whatsoever. And in the terms of "respecting" another person's tradition and values -- well, that's just another topic altogether.<br /><br />Indeed - isn't respect subjective entirely? Or is respect in fact only based on a man's actions and not his thoughts, and thus, not his principles?
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Re:Tradition and Respect

Postby Stin » Fri Jul 25, 2003 2:41 am

In response to Raya's first post:<br /><br />It seems to me that there is no absolute answer to the question posed. There are some traditions which I don't follow that I respect, and other traditions which I don't follow that I abhor. Furthermore, to make things even more complicated, I think we can both respect and abhor different aspects of one tradition. For example, I can respect an ancient culture's desire to commune with the divine through an organized religion, but I would abhor the practice of human sacrifice that may be associated with the religion in question. I hope this makes sense, I'm more of a language geek than a philosopher. :P
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Re:Tradition and Respect

Postby annis » Fri Jul 25, 2003 1:26 pm

Raya, congratulations on such an appropriate question. On a site dedicated to the foundations of what is commonly named the "Western Tradition," the matter is quite relevant.<br /><br />It is possible to respect a tradition and yet not follow it. In fact, that is the only way to honor the tradtion.<br /><br />How's that for provocative? :)<br /><br />When I read a Greek poem, I don't just read it. I don't just let the words wash over me. Appreciating poetry takes serious, focused engagement with the language: the meter, the sounds, the meaning all working together. And I try to take the matter in on its own terms. The author is trying to say something, and I should do him or her the favor of really trying to understand what.<br /><br />But part of that engagement is not just drawing the words in, but thinking about them. I can appreciate Homer's technique, his assumptions, and his art and still think Odysseus' treatment of Thersites beastly, not remotely comical.<br /><br />If we take this to philosophy, we can read Plato very seriously, knowing he has something important to say, and yet still be able to absorb that and stand back and reassess what he is saying in light of 2400+ years of history and learning.<br /><br />I'm a big fan of the Stoic philosophers, but they believed that the entire Universe was a purposive, intentional being of which we were only a part. Current evidence argues against that, but Stoic ideals can withstand that blow to their metaphysics (see "A New Stoicism" by Lawrence Becker). So, I can read - and respect - the Stoic tradition, but still not follow it. I might even alter it, because Stoic thought challenges us to see if it will work in changed circumstances. That respect and engagement with a serious philosophical tradition requires continual reassesment and adjustment.<br /><br />I can read Plato, and learn from Plato, without being a Platonist; I can read Homer, and appreciate Homer, without being a Greek aristocrat. I can respect (and learn from) what ancient authors have to offer, and still decide parts of it are soul-deforming nonsense.<br /><br />I hope I'm being clear enough.
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