Tradition is belief or behavior with symbolic meaning or special significance and origins in the past.
- Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.
- G. K. Chesterton, in “The Ethics of Elfland,” Orthodoxy (1908), p. 85
The time-honoured tradition of the human race ... is around and about us and within us; we cannot think except in the forms and processes of thought which it supplies. Is it possible to doubt and to test it? and if possible, is it right?
We shall find reason to answer that it is not only possible and right, but our bounden duty; that the main purpose of the tradition itself is to supply us with the means of asking questions, of testing and inquiring into things; that if we misuse it, and take it as a collection of cut-and-dried statements to be accepted without further inquiry, we are not only injuring ourselves here, but, by refusing to do our part towards the building up of the fabric which shall be inherited by our children, we are tending to cut off ourselves and our race from the human line.
- Precedents are not mere dusty phrases, which do not substantially affect the question before us. A precedent embalms a principle. The principle may be right or may be wrong—that is a question for discussion; but at the first glance it is right to conclude that it is a principle that has been acted upon and recognised by those who preceded us.
- A tradition without intelligence is not worth having.
- T. S. Eliot, After Strange Gods (1934). London: Faber and Faber, p. 19
- Tradition is the living faith of the dead; traditionalism is the dead faith of the living. Tradition lives in conversation with the past, while remembering where we are and when we are and that it is we who have to decide. Traditionalism supposes that nothing should ever be done for the first time, so all that is needed to solve any problem is to arrive at the supposedly unanimous testimony of this homogenized tradition.
- Jaroslav Pelikan, in "Christianity as an enfolding circle," U.S. News & World Report (June 26, 1989), p. 57
- Belief has its structures, and its symbols change. Its tradition changes. All the relationships within these forms are inter-dependent. We look at the symbols, we hope to read them, we hope for sharing and communication.
- Muriel Rukeyser, in The Life of Poetry (1949), p. 96
- You do not understand your own tradition if you do not see it in relation to others.
- It is of the essence of traditions that they cover or conceal their humble foundations by erecting impressive edifices on them.
- Leo Strauss, Natural Right and History, p. 31