Friday, June 03, 2005

The Future of Tradition

I found this pointer on The Corner:
Lee Harris has written a long, thoughtful, and deeply felt piece for Policy Review about the nature and significance of tradition. The argument culminates in a profound critique of the idea of same-sex marriage. On the way, Harris offers, among other things, criticism of Hayek's understanding of tradition. Without quite knowing it, I think Harris is reinventing a bit of the sociological-philosophical stream of thought that flows out of the work of Emile Durkheim. I don't want to impugn the originality or power of what Harris has to say, though. He's found a way to make the reader experience even classic sociological wisdom as a kind of bolt from the blue. Also, Harris offers a gentle and indirect criticism of my own approach to the marriage debate. Yet I very much like his line of thinking. I understand all too well how unfortunate it is that arguments like mine are necessary. There is danger in offering a rational defense of take-for-granted social assumptions. The sad fact is that we've come to the point where we have no choice. In any case, Harris is onto deep truths.
As I read the article I found myself wishing that I could think half as deeply and write half as well as Harris does here. It's long, but well worth your time.