The Traditional Ritual Project

  • George KhushfEmail author
Part of the Philosophical Studies in Contemporary Culture book series (PSCC, volume 21)


Orthodox and Confucian scholars in this volume look to a general account of ritual as the basis for (1) a critique of modern society, and (2) an apologetic for their traditional communities. I call the project advancing these two elements the traditional ritual project, and I call those who advance this project traditionalists. According to traditionalists, modern societies are deficient because they lack rituals or they have the wrong kinds of rituals. In contrast, traditional communities are seen as having the vital rituals necessary for human flourishing, and they also provide the language and cultural framework that is needed for appreciating the functions of ritual in human life. In this essay, I explore some tensions and problems integral to the traditional ritual project, especially tensions between universalizing and particularizing tendencies. I show that any resolution of these problems must depend on the specific, ritualized content integral to the particular communities, and that traditionalists cannot provide a general account of ritual without simultaneously moving beyond some of the strong claims about particularism and incommensurability.


Rituals Traditionalism Universalism Particularism Modernity 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA

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