Three Rival Views of Tradition (Arendt, Oakeshott and MacIntyre)

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If we define tradition too hastily we leave to one side the question of what the relevance of tradition is for us. Here the concept of tradition is opened up by considering the different views of it taken by Hannah Arendt, Michael Oakeshott and Alasdair MacIntyre. We see that each has put tradition into a fully developed picture of what our predicament is in modernity; and that each has differed in their assessment of what our relation to tradition is or should be. Arendt sees tradition as something which no longer conditions action, Oakeshott sees tradition as something which conditions all action, and MacIntyre sees tradition as something which should condition right action. In each case, the view of tradition is clearly one element in an attempt to see how the most important constituent elements of human existence – variously called the human condition, human conduct, or human virtue – should be understood in a modernity which is ours because it has put the traditional concept of tradition into question
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