To slightly recapitulate what I have touched till now, the character of tradition is of conversation in a figurative sense. Numerous dualities between tradition and not-(understood-as)-tradition exist because of our inability to grasp this specific character of tradition. However the observation may be considered totally subjective, and rightly so, unless the argument is extended and used to have an objective insight into various arenas. The present post is a result of my deliberation on Gadamer’s concept of ‘effective history‘ and Dr. Yedullah Kazmi’s application of that.
If tradition is a necessary conversation with our past in order to make sense of our lives, whether it should be understood as a rigid monolithic structure which is totally uniform or a diverse enterprise rich with inherent multifariousness? More basic questions could be that why there is a need to undertake take this conversation with the past, at all? How one should go about doing it and for how long? All these questions if put in their respective perspectives give clues as to how tradition fits into other impressions and undertakings of human society. To put it differently, objective answers to these questions lead us to mechanisms through which humans create their social reality, which is itself a source of dualities that was touched briefly in first part of this series. Still extending this further, the answers to these questions may help us disentangle the dualities and bring us out of this impasse.
Even if we understand the importance of conversations with past (to give meaning to our selves in present and thus make our flow objective in the temporal continuum), is it just an egoistical endeavour or something superior? The answer lies in what we understand from ‘making sense of our lives‘. This ‘sense‘ is nothing but the sense of the world which we inhabit. Moral, histrorical and sociological are different ways through which this world leaves impressions on ourselves. Expressing these impressions through these ‘languages‘ is actually an exhibition of our sentience. Moreover the world around us is not a unifacial entity which can be efficaciously described in a single language. We essentially need to construct different languages to describe different aspects of the world. Hence we perpetually create languages, maintain them and keep modifiying them in order to keep making sense of our contemporary world. Language of morals, humanities, social sciences and physical sciences are few such languages which came into being through conscious effort with a common objective i.e. an optimum description of the world and consequently our existence.
Languages are nothing but different forms of knowledge and unless what is presented above is found completely obscure, forms of knowledge are embedded in the same process through which we make sense of our own existence. It is necessary therefore to comprehend that knowledge is not created and maintained by an internally isolated logic but part of a larger process to express intricacies of human existence. Knowledge and different traditions of the world are complected at various layers. These layers if appropriately maginified would reveal the true nature of dualities (which I have already highlighted).
For instance, various traditions of the world have their own forms of knowledge and the ‘language‘ which gains dominance in a specific time (due to many reasons) would be used to give dominance to a particular tradition and thus the forms of knowledge it has constructed and maintained. More importantly the dominant language (for instance the language of science presently) may be used to derive validity for existence of other languages. This evaluation of other languages by the dominant language give rise to conflicts and dichotomies.
To summarize this post, tradition is a process to construct forms of knowledge. We need to carryout this critical conversation with awarenesss in order to identify the roots of these forms. This awareness would enable us to manage pseudo-conflicts at higher levels which might not be between traditionalism and rationalism per se but because of giving dominance to one form of knowledge over other.