Dead or alive?: Reflective versus unreflective traditions

Philosophy and Social Criticism 23 (4):71-91 (1997)
The Enlightenment heritage has meant that we have tended to conceive of tradition as inevitably opposed to reason, and that the exten sion of one as a major constitutive element in social affairs, implies the retraction of the other. However, this paper attempts to conceive the relationship between tradition and reason in a more articulated context, suggesting that this dichotomy between reason and tradition may itself be what Hans-Georg Gadamer calls an 'Enlightenment prejudice'. By drawing on the work of thinkers within a broad hermeneutic tradition, this paper attempts to articulate an alternative means of thinking about the relation ship between reason and tradition, which suggests that it is only when we adopt a particular Enlightenment perspective that we are hermeneutically confined to confirming Enlightenment presuppositions that there is such a dichotomy between reason and tradition. Key Words: constitutive • . Enlightenment • . justification • . legitimacy • . rational • . reason • . reflective • . tradition • . unreflective • . validity.
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