The pertinence of the opposition, which exists in our understanding, between ‘modernity’ and ‘tradition’ is what, I believe, forced Oakeshott to substitute ‘practices’ for ‘traditions’ on the way from Rationalism in Politics to On Human Conduct. Having repeated Collingwood’s resort to ‘tradition’ as a check against some of the effects of modernity in the former book, Oakeshott then attempted to demonstrate how ‘practices’ may be shown to be operating within the condition of modernity. In this sense, they are the remainder of the human condition which not merely escapes the numerous divisions imposed by modernity but redeems the overall division and loss without invoking any straightfor-wardly ‘conservative’ attitudes. Especially so in the case of the activity of politics, in which the complex structure of ‘practices’, inviting at least two different idioms of inquiry at once, requires the distinctively modern ability to move amidst the categorially distinct universes of discourse.
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