Tradition ist nichts, was Einer lernen kann, ist nicht ein Faden, den Einer aufnehmen kann, wenn es ihm gefällt; so wenig, wie es möglich ist, sich die eigenen Ahnen auszusuchen.

Wer eine Tradition nicht hat und sie haben möchte, der ist wie ein unglücklich Verliebter.

Tradition is not something a man can learn; not a thread he can pick up when he feels like it; any more than a man can choose his own ancestors.

Someone lacking a tradition who would like to have one is like a man unhappily in love.

(Wittgenstein’s journals, 1948, tr. Peter Winch)

But consider the following case. A tribe observes strict laws of religious devotion and imposes strict penalties for sacrilege. This practice has a utilitarian justification: it sustains the cohesion of the tribe and so protects it from its foes and predators. But the utilitarian justification, which may be furnished with the most elaborate theories by some observing anthropologist, is not, and could not be, the motive for the religious act. A member of the tribe who engages in religious ceremony in order to sustain social cohesion has lost the sense of religion. In his heart, he is already alienated from the social organism which he seeks to uphold.

(Roger Scruton, A Short History of Modern Philosophy)

 

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