Tradition


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Idioms, Wikipedia.

tradition

1. Christianity a doctrine or body of doctrines regarded as having been established by Christ or the apostles though not contained in Scripture
2. Judaism a body of laws regarded as having been handed down from Moses orally and only committed to writing in the 2nd century ad
3. the beliefs and customs of Islam supplementing the Koran, esp as embodied in the Sunna
4. Law, chiefly Roman and Scots the act of formally transferring ownership of movable property; delivery

Tradition

 

the totality of writings regarded by the Orthodox and Catholic churches as “divinely inspired” and second only to Scripture in significance. Tradition is distinct from Scripture and is so named because some of its works were, according to church teaching, originally transmitted orally by the Apostles and committed to writing only later. Tradition includes The Creed and The Apostolic Canons, decisions of ecumenical and some local church councils, and certain works of the church fathers. The works that constitute tradition differ for the Orthodox and the Catholic churches; in particular, papal decretals occupy a large place in the Catholic Church.

By attributing the force of “divine right” to tradition, the church is able to sanction practical measures and norms that are dictated by changing historical circumstances and that cannot be justified by Scripture and thus to establish them as immutable; examples are the universal Christian doctrine of the Trinity and the Catholic dogma of papal infallibility.

In Judaism the Talmud plays a role analogous to that of tradition, as does the sunna in Islam.


Tradition

 

a part of the social and cultural heritage, transmitted from generation to generation and preserved over an extended period in a given society, class, or social group; the process and methods by which a society’s heritage of material and nonmaterial wealth is transmitted. Such traditional elements include certain social institutions, norms of behavior, values, beliefs, customs, and rituals.

Tradition is not limited to its most stereotyped manifestations, such as customs and rituals; rather, it extends over a much wider range of social phenomena. All social systems have specific traditions that to a certain extent condition their functioning. The influence of tradition is most pervasive in the precapitalist social formations. While the most diverse spheres of social life—such as economics, politics, and law—have their own characteristic traditions, the latter’s influence varies in degree from one sphere to another. The weight of tradition is greatest in the religious sphere. In the arts and sciences, too, traditions play a distinct part.

Class societies are characterized by class traditions. On the one hand, class differentiation has a significant effect on each nation’s cultural heritage; on the other hand, each class and social group is marked by its own traditions. Hence the multiplicity of conflicting traditions and conflicting attitudes toward them. While each generation is necessarily the recipient of a set of traditions, it also chooses among them to some extent; in this sense each generation chooses not only its own future but its own past as well. The persistence of a given tradition over time does not of itself determine its import in modern life; to be viable, a tradition must be continuously developed by succeeding generations under changing historical circumstances. Each society, class, or group, accepting certain components of the social heritage, at the same time rejects others. Traditions may therefore be classified as positive or negative, depending on whether and to what extent they are accepted or rejected.

From the Marxist point of view, the role of tradition must be evaluated selectively. Blind obedience to tradition gives rise to conservatism and the stagnation of society; on the other hand, a contemptuous attitude toward the social heritage may lead to the breakdown of social and cultural continuity and the loss of valuable human achievements. Under socialism, the progressive values of the past and the traditions of the revolution, labor, and patriotism are preserved and promoted in conjunction with the struggle against reactionary and obsolete traditions and against inertia and routine.

A. B. GOFMAN

Tradition is an essential component of literature and the arts. In the early stages of artistic evolution, traditions are transmitted by and gain strength through the collective creative process, as in the case of the primitive art and folklore—the “traditional” art—of the peoples of Africa, Australia, and Oceania and of the American Indians. At subsequent stages, as they undergo constant renewal, traditions are handed down directly through formal education and the succession of trends and currents that arise within a common social and cultural milieu. Art, although far removed in time and space, may nevertheless become the carrier of a living tradition. Such traditions sometimes have a more significant effect than those transmitted directly; some examples are the influence of ancient art on classicism, of Shakespeare’s and Calderón’s works on the romantic writers, of Japanese engravings on the impressionists, and of 17th- and 18th-century music on the neoclassical composers of the 20th century.

A typical trait of imitative art is its stubborn conformity to obsolete and nonviable traditions. Innovative art does not merely consist in breaking away from traditions and establishing non-traditional artistic principles; as a rule, such art also adopts and reinterprets other traditions that are relevant to the given circumstances. A new tradition is thus created and subsequently handed down. In the art of socialist realism, innovation coexists harmoniously with reliance on the classical heritage and the progressive traditions of national and world culture.

REFERENCES

Marx, K. Vosemnadtsatoe Briumera Lui Bonaparta. In K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 8.
Engels, F. Proiskhozhdenie sem’i, chastnoi sobstvennosti i gosudarstva. Ibid., vol. 21.
Lenin, V. I. “O natsional’noi gordosti velikorossov.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 26.
Lenin, V. I. “Ot kakogo nasledstva my otkazyvaemsia?” Ibid., vol. 2.
Sarsenbaev, N. S. Obychai, traditsii i obshchestvennaia zhizn. Alma-Ata, 1974.
Szacki, J. Tradycja: Przegladproblematyki. Warsaw, 1971.
References in classic literature ?
There is a tradition, only worth alluding to as lending a tinge of superstitious awe to a scene perhaps gloomy enough without it, that a voice spoke loudly among the guests, the tones of which were like those of old Matthew Maule, the executed wizard,--"God hath given him blood to drink
Admitting (as I could not deny) the general truth of these conclusions, I cannot but think it strange that no attempt has been made to excite an interest for the traditions and manners of Old England, similiar to that which has been obtained in behalf of those of our poorer and less celebrated neighbours.
The impression I had was that we were leaving the West and entering the East; the most western of splendid bridges over the Danube, which is here of noble width and depth, took us among the traditions of Turkish rule.
On entering the bar-room, I found, as I expected, the old tradition monger seated by a special good fire of anthracite, compelling clouds of smoke from a corpulent cigar.
The Tweed had been a wooden vessel, and he brought the tradition of quick passages with him into the iron clipper.
If you could learn so much of the British Romans so far away in New South Wales, where there cannot be even a tradition of them, what might you not make of the same amount of study on the very spot.
In all the rainy desert of autumnal London there were only two people whom the Newland Archers knew; and these two they had sedulously avoided, in conformity with the old New York tradition that it was not "dignified" to force one's self on the notice of one's acquaintances in foreign countries.
We intended to go to the Bridge of Sighs, but happened into the Ducal Palace first--a building which necessarily figures largely in Venetian poetry and tradition.
To us it seems that every institution and relationship was the fruit of haphazard and tradition and the manifest sport of chance, their laws each made for some separate occasion and having no relation to any future needs, their customs illogical, their education aimless and wasteful.
Then, indeed, the tradition gallantly upheld, they seized their weapons, and the air was torn with the war-cry; but it was now too late.
Freedom from the domination of the great tradition could only be found by seeking new subjects, and such freedom was really only illusionary, since romantic subjects alone are suitable for epic treatment.
We may begin by transcribing one or two of the songs, which, though not as numerous then as in some later periods, show that the great tradition of English secular lyric poetry reaches back from our own time to that of the Anglo-Saxons without a break.