Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Tradition

"The whole history of science, art and morals proves that the mind that appears in individuals, is not as such individual mind. The former is in itself a system of belief, recognitions, and ignorances, of acceptances and rejections, of expectancies and appraisals of meanings which have been instituted under the influence of custom and tradition." - John Dewey

"We are slaves to tradition." - Jiddu Krishnamurti

"Man is in his actions and practice, as well as in his fictions, essentially a story-telling animal. He is not essentially, but becomes through is history, a teller of stories that aspire to truth. But the key question for men is not about their own authorship; I can only answer the question ‘What am I to do?’ if I can answer the prior question, ‘Of what story or stories do I find myself a part?’ We enter human society, that is, with one or more imputed characters - roles into which we have been drafted - and we have to learn what they are in order to be able to understand how others respond to us and how our responses to them are a part to be construed... Deprive children of stories and you leave them unscripted, anxious strutters in their actions as in their words. Hence there is no way to give us an understanding of any society, including our own, except through the stock of stories which constitute its initial dramatic resource. Mythology, in its original sense, is at the heart of things. Vico was right and so was Joyce. And so too of course is that moral tradition fro heroic society to its medieval heirs according to which the telling of stories has a key part in educating us into the virtues." - Alasdair Chalmers MacIntyre

"Tradition is a guide and not a jailer." -

""Free thought" means thinking freely... To be worthy of the name [freethinker] he must be free of two things: the force of tradition and the tyranny of his own passions. No one is completely free from either, and in the measure of a man's emancipation he deserves to be called a free thinker." -

"Tradition is what you resort to when you don't have the time or the money to do it right." - Kurt Herbert Adler

"Tradition does not mean that the living are dead but that the dead are alive." - G. K. Chesterton, fully Gilbert Keith Chesterton

"It is a principle of Jewish tradition... not to simply cling to the dry letter of the law, but to be guided by its spirit." - Áron Chorin

"The pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, an almost fanatical love of justice, and the desire for personal independence - these are the features of Jewish tradition which make me thank my stars that I belong to it." - Albert Einstein

"Taboos are very ancient prohibitions which at one time were forced upon a generation of primitive people by an earlier generation. These prohibitions concerned actions for which there existed a strong desire. The prohibitions maintain themselves from generation to generation, perhaps only as the results of a tradition set up by paternal and social authority." - Sigmund Freud, born Sigismund Schlomo Freud

"Of all intellectual friendships, none are so beautiful as those which subsist between old and ripe men and their younger brethren in science or literature or art. It is by; these private friendships, even more than by public performance, that the tradition of sound thinking and great doing is perpetuated from age to age." - Philip G. Hamerton, fully Philip Gilbert Hamerton

"Let life teach you what spirit it... By conforming to spiritual ideals imposed from the outside through the force of tradition, people often channel themselves into models of behavior that violate their inner essence. We are all guaranteed realization when we strip away our pre-conceived notions about spiritual perfection, give up striving form some idealized end-point called 'enlightenment,' and discover the magnificence of what we already are and live that fully." - W. Brugh Joy, fully William Brugh Joy

"The problem of our purpose is a religious problem... Our purpose is derived from faith and is imposed onto reality by our own souls. But faith and religious truth themselves are not absolute. They are relative. Thus the answers one gives to questions about the purpose of life must necessarily be relative to a time, a place, a tradition... To know and worship God means, in Baha’ullah’s words, to promote the unity of the human race and to foster the spirit of love and fellowship amongst men”... Someday there will be a global society in which humanity will realize its spiritual and moral potential... The destiny of mankind, actually, is the ultimate creation of the world civilization. It is only in the service of such a cause that I find the meaning and purpose of life." - Firuz Kazemzadeh

"The uprooting of human beings from the land, the concentration in cities, the breakdown of the authority of family, of tradition, and of moral conventions, the complexity and the novelty of modern life, and finally the economic insecurity of our industrial system have called into being the modern social worker. They perform a function in modern society which is not a luxury but an absolute necessity." - Walter Lippmann

"The meaning of life is to be found in our surroundings and in our relationships... Life is meaningful when we respect the best of tradition while still loving innovation... Life is fulfilling when we marry pride with tolerance, when our deeds and our words are nourished by hope and by realism, when the wisdom of the ages catches the passionate eye of youth. Life on this earth in our time is, above all, a parade of interdependent peoples, interdependent ideas, interdependent solutions. We are all artists of the possible - and dreamers of that which is just now beyond our reach, but may not be tomorrow." - Youssou N’Dour

"Every tradition grows continually more venerable, and the more remote its origin, the more this is lost sight of. The veneration paid the tradition accumulates from generation to generation, until at last becomes holy and excites awe." - Friedrich Nietzsche, fully Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

"Tradition grows ever more venerable - the more remote its origin the more confused the origin is. The reverence due to it increases from generation to generation, until it becomes holy and inspires awe." - Friedrich Nietzsche, fully Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

"Our tradition teaches us that sound is God - Nada Brahma. The highest aim of our music is to reveal the essence of the universe it reflects." - Ravi Shankar, born Robindro Shaunkor Chowdhury, aka Pandit

"Tradition is what you resort to when you don't have the time or the money to do it right." -

"This is the essence of the problem faced by evolutionists wanting to engage ethical questions. The evolutionary humanist is pressed to an inescapable conclusion: There are no absolute moral standards, and morality is merely the result of an interplay between evolution, tradition, and social convention, which can be altered, updated, and changed depending on the situation... diminished responsibility." - Joe Boot

"Much of our ethical life is lived unthinkingly, for we do as we do by habit, custom, tradition, or because we have thought the pros and cons of similar situations. We must somehow be able to decide what is valuable at this moment while at the same time remaining open to future revisions in our valuational pattern. This willingness to revise, to be open to new possibilities of value, is for me a key to life and value enhancement." - Robert E. Carter, fully Robert Edgar Carter

"Just because something is tradition doesn't make it right." - Anthony J. D'Angelo

"Leadership is particularly necessary to ensure ready acceptance of the unfamiliar and that which is contrary to tradition." - Cyril Bentham Falls

"Tradition is the witness of the Spirit; the Spirit’s unceasing revelation and preaching of good tidings… It is, primarily, the principle of growth and regeneration." - Georges Florovsky, fully Georges Vasilievich Florovsky

"History is more or less bunk. It's tradition. We don't want tradition. We want to live in the present and the only history that is worth a tinker's damn is the history we make today." - Henry Ford

"Persecution always acts as a gel for members of cults; it proves to them, in the absence of history, liturgy, tradition, and doctrine that they are God’s chosen." - Barbara Grizzuti Harrison

"The problem is the spirit of our age: denial of transcendence, the vapidity of values, emptiness in the heart, the decreased sensitivity to the imponderable quality of the spirit, the collapse of communication between the realm of tradition and the inner world of the individual." - Abraham Joshua Heschel

"The nearer my approach to the end, the plainer is the sound of immortal symphonies of worlds which invite me. It is wonderful yet simple. It is a fairy tale; it is history. For half a century I have been translating my thoughts into prose and verse; history, philosophy, drama, romance, tradition, satire, ode and song; all of these I have tried. But I feel that I haven’t given utterance to the thousandth part of what lies within me. When I go to the grave I can say as others have said, “My day’s work is done.” But I cannot say, “My life is done.” My day’s work will recommence the next morning. the tomb is not a blind alley; it is a thoroughfare. It closes upon the twilight, but opens upon the dawn." - Victor Hugo

"For tradition to be alive it has to be allowed to be a fountain of power for things undreamt of, things to come." - Jabra Ibrahim Jabra

"A hero… is not a hero until he is recognized as one. This means that the actualization of the hero is a two-way projection. First the hero must project by way of his deeds, his style, his character. When the projection registers, an imaginative process begins to remake the hero to fit as fully as possible the symbolic weight of his image. Legend and myth take over the historical personage, and through either an oral or a written tradition he is reborn in his heroic apotheosis." - Harold Lubin

"We know tradition as a living social process constantly changing, constantly in need of criticism, but constant also as the continuing memory, value system and habit structure of a society." - Richard Niebuhr, fully Helmut Richard Niebuhr

"Imagination continually frustrates tradition. That is its function." - Jules Pfeiffer

"Faith is deeper, richer, more personal. It is engendered by a religious tradition, in some cases and to some degree by its doctrines; but it is a quality of the person not of the system. It is an orientation of the personality, to oneself, to one’s neighbor, to the universe; a total response; a way of seeing whatever one sees and of handling whatever one handles; a capacity to live at more than a mundane level; to see, to feel, to act in terms of, a transcendent dimension." - Wilfred Cantwell Smith

"If a man has lived in a tradition which tells him that nothing can be done about his human condition, to believe that progress is possible may be the greatest revolution of all." - Susan Cullen-Ward, born Susan Barbara Zogu, formerly Williams, née Susan Cullen-Ward

"Men's manners have improved markedly since Genghis Khan's day. Harems went out of style centuries ago and even despots now disavow pillage and oppression as ideals. At heart, though, we're the same animals we were 800 years ago. Which is to say we are status seekers. We may talk of equality and fraternity. We may strive for classless societies. But we go right on building hierarchies and jockeying for status within them. Can we abandon the tendency? Probably not. For as scientists are now discovering, status seeking is not just a habit or cultural tradition. It's a design of the male psyche - a biological drive that is rooted in the nervous system and regulated by hormones and brain chemicals." -

"A Hopi tradition speaks of a fall from grace in which human beings experience themselves as progressively more separate from earth, animals, and other humans. The return to grace is through reunion. The cause of the fall is ascribed to people's forgetting their true nature and purpose." - Arthur Deikman

"When The problem to be faced is: how to combine loyalty to one's own tradition with reverence for different traditions." - Abraham Joshua Heschel

"Freethinkers are those who reach judgment based on critical thinking and independent reasoning without regard to prevailing authority and tradition." - Gerald Alexander Larue

"The primary function of myth is to validate an existing social order. Myth enshrines conservative social values, raising tradition on a pedestal. It expresses and confirms, rather than explains or questions, the sources of cultural attitudes and values. Because myth anchors the present in the past it is a sociological charter for a future society which is an exact replica of the present one." - Ann Oakley

"In general the character tradition assumes that institutions such as families, schools, and long-lived organizations will act more wisely than individuals and also that individuals who have lived through a variety of experiences have learned things that many young people do not yet know." - Edward A. Wynne

"The human race has had long experience and a find tradition in surviving adversity. But now we face a task for which we have little experience, the task of surviving prosperity." - Alan Gregg

"The human race has had long experience and a find tradition in surviving adversity. But now we face a task for which we have little experience, the task of surviving prosperity." -

"Every individual is at once the beneficiary and the victim of the linguistic tradition into which he has been born - the beneficiary inasmuch as language gives access to the accumulated records of other people's experience, the victim in so far as it confirms him in the belief that reduced awareness is the only awareness and as it bedevils his sense of reality, so that he is all too apt to take his concepts for data, his words for actual things." -

"Every individual is at once the beneficiary and the victim of the linguistic tradition into which he has been born - the beneficiary inasmuch as language gives access to the accumulated records of other people's experience, the victim in so far as it confirms him in the belief that reduced awareness is the only awareness and as it bedevils his sense of reality, so that he is all too apt to take his concepts for data, his words for actual things." -

"Every individual is at once the beneficiary and the victim of the linguistic tradition into which he has been born - the beneficiary inasmuch as language gives access to the accumulated records of other people's experience, the victim in so far as it confirms him in the belief that reduced awareness is the only awareness and as it bedevils his sense of reality, so that he is all too apt to take his concepts for data, his words for actual things." -

"Science and technology revolutionize our lives, but memory, tradition and myth frame our response. Expelled from individual consciousness by the rush of change, history finds its revenge by stamping the collective unconscious with habits, values, expectations, dreams. The dialectic between past and future will continue to form our lives." - Arthur Meier Schlesinger, Jr., born Arthur Bancroft Schlesinger

"Theology is unapologetically prescriptive. It does not claim to be value-free or neutral. Theologians draw upon the beliefs of a particular tradition to suggest a course of action, an appropriate response, a way of life commensurate with what the faith teaches. Theology can be wrong; it cannot be noncommittal." - Harvey Cox, fully Harvey Gallagher Cox, Jr.

"Tradition should be deabsolutized, but not scrapped. We’re in a two thousand year continuity, and that which expresses continuity is valuable. In a state of flux on doctrine, continuity of tradition has even more value." - James A. Pike, fully Bishop James Albert Pike

"Tradition is an important help to history, but its statements should be carefully scrutinized before we rely on them." - Joseph Addison