Human Studies

, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 451–470 | Cite as


Theoretical / Philosophical Paper


Noting the prevalence of a misguided suspicion towards tradition, as well as an overt misunderstanding of the very notion of tradition in certain academic circles, this essay seeks to outline some of the basic tenets of an alternative understanding of tradition, based on a ‘sociological’ reading of several major philosophical works. It does so by revisiting and synthesizing some well-known, highly influential conceptual arguments that, taken together, offer a compelling, comprehensive interpretation and understanding of tradition, which manages to avoid and overcome the false dichotomies that have dominated social-scientific thought. The article offers three corresponding analogies that capture the complex nature of tradition: tradition as language, tradition as narrative, and tradition as horizon. It then goes on to discuss the main implications these analogies carry to our understanding of tradition.


Tradition Historicity Language Narrative Horizons Modernity Liberty Charles Taylor HG Gadamer A. MacIntyre 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political StudiesBar-Ilan UniversityRamat GanIsrael

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