What’s a Tradent?

In a contentious series of threads over at Lawrence Auster’s View from the Right, and in the midst of a very long comment on the imago dei, I used the word “tradent.” Now, normally Lawrence is quite stern with me, both about the length of my comments and about my use of obscure words. But this time, he graciously let both of my characteristic rhetorical foibles pass without comment, except to insert a bracketed question mark – a typographical cocked eyebrow – after my use of the unusual expression.

I think “tradent” might be useful to us. What does it mean? According to the OED, a tradent is, “the person who delivers or hands over any property to another.”

It is obviously related closely to “trade” as well as “tradition,” which stem from the Latin trans, “over” + dare, “to give.” So do “traitor” and “treason.” Liberals are traitors to the ancient tradition of their forefathers; we are traitors to the liberal tradition, and to the extent that we carry our treason into practice by living traditionally, we are tradents.

A tradent is thus to be distinguished from a traditionalist. We have been using the latter term to cover both a person who advocates tradition, as Orthosphereans all do, and a person who lives traditionally. Many of our readers are traditionalists in both senses; the more, the better! But I think it makes sense to distinguish between the two sorts of traditionally minded person.

A traditionalist, then, is someone like myself who advocates tradition, but who doesn’t live a particularly traditional life. Let’s face it, I live a totally modern life. I mean, I still have a TV; how traditional can I be? By contrast, someone who actually lives a traditional life is a tradent. An Amish man is a tradent. Whereas I am trying to resuscitate a dead culture, rather as if I were trying to spread Latin literacy, he is handing down a living patrimony. A tradent might not even know that he is handing on a patrimony. Indeed, a denizen of a truly traditional culture would never suspect that he was doing anything other than living a normal, proper life.

Orthosphereans, then, are generally apostate liberals, who are traditionalists intellectually, but not natively, and who are struggling to be tradents as well.

____________________

PS: There is no creature half so traditionally minded as an ent. But ents are not tradents, because, having no entwives, they have no one to whom they may pass down their traditions.

17 thoughts on “What’s a Tradent?

  1. A tradent might not even know that he is handing on a patrimony.

    In fact, tradition tends to work better this way. But it tends to leave you vulnerable to rationalist attacks. But to be a conservative intellectual or a conservative activist, even in the traditionalist sense of conservative, is something of an oxymoron.

    • @TWW – “But it tends to leave you vulnerable to rationalist attacks. ”

      I wonder whether this is true? – I think not necessarily so. It contains an assumption that a lasting society lasts because of its powerful arguments for its own superiority, or at least that such arguments are necessary.

      Yet the ‘tradent’ groups do not argue – except from within their own assumptions. They do not engage. They simply get-on-with-it and resist (as best they can) attempts to stop them or influence them.

      Their strength comes, typically – perhaps always, from religious devoutness.

      • You may be right. Perhaps it is better to say that they have been vulnerable to rationalist attacks.

        Though it also remains to be seen whether the government will interfere with them in future.

  2. @Thursday

    But to be a conservative intellectual or a conservative activist, even in the traditionalist sense of conservative, is something of an oxymoron.

    Oh God! Not you.

    Why does conservative have to equal stupid.

    The Apostles were all “activists” on behalf of the Christian cause.

      • No. But I did you the honour of watching his presentation of the book on Youtube. I feel I have a grasp of his ideas (my undergraduate training was heavy in neuroscience) and let me say that whilst his understanding of neuroscience is good, his mapping of the the findings of neuroscience onto contemporary culture are faulty and simplistic. As he asserts in the beginning of his presentation, in a healthy brain, both left and right sides engage in an interplay of in order to interpret the world. It’s only in the organically damaged that functional isolation exists. In most normal people the issue is not so clear cut, and as such, the modern world is a product of both left and right brain thinking. His assertion, that one side gets to dominate the mind at the expense of the rest is pushing it.
        The ability of the left brain to override the right is what gives man his rational nature but the wealth of experience seems to suggest that it is right brain type thinking that is the dominant modality of thought in nearly most people. That’s where we get into trouble.

        Dorner’s, Logic of Failure, and Stanovich’s, What Intelligence Tests Miss, provide a wealth of evidence to show that emotive associative thinking (i.e right brain thinking)even amongst high IQ people is what gets us undone. Sustained and higher level logical analysis is simply beyond most people.

        Dispassionate analysis is hard. Most people don’t do it. Hubris, stupidity and intellectual sloppiness are foundation stones of the modern world. Really hard thinking draws you back to God. It’s the weak, sloppy and emotive reasoning that takes you away from Him.

    • The intellect works with abstractions, but those abstractions always leave something out. In some areas (physics) this isn’t much of a problem, but it is definitely problematic when reasoning about whole societies. The danger is that we will attempt to remake society to match our (by definition incomplete) theories. This is a particular sin of liberalism, but it is not unknown among conservatives/traditionalists.

    • The intellect also has real trouble capturing certain ineffable, but nonetheless real and important things. It tends to leave them out or see them as unimportant.

    • Thursday is too intelligent to be hostile to intelligence. It is not anti-intellectual to long for a life of peaceful integrity in a society of like-minded fellows, where one can relax under the arbor in the afternoon and listen to the apostle on his way through town.

      I find I have to agree with Thursday that it is deeply ironic that our present situation forces us to muster all sorts of intellectual resources in order to advocate – nay, to articulate, or even properly *understand* – the basic precepts of existence understood chthonically by the common sense of millions of plain unreflective men over thousands of generations. The attention of the intellect is the great acid of all custom and tradition. That’s why it is the font of creative innovation. Its overweening, unconstrained application is what brought us to this pass. How odd it is, and indeed how poetically just, that we now train our intellects on the intellectual product of the last 500 years!

      The acid now eats at itself.

      Perhaps this is the only outcome we might reasonably have expected from an arms race lasting millennia. But still. That peaceful arbor in the rose of evening sounds awfully good.

  3. It is generally a mistake to confound theology with politics as Auster has done. I have criticized the theological posts here as being divisive and beside the point of reactionary politics.

    It is even unnecessary. The British have given a useful notion of ‘criminal tribe’ as they were called in Indian Empire. The members were required to report to the local police regarding their movements and were subject to other special regulations

  4. Pingback: And Now For Something Completely Cheesy « The Orthosphere

  5. A traditionalist, then, is someone like myself who advocates tradition, but who doesn’t live a particularly traditional life. Let’s face it, I live a totally modern life. I mean, I still have a TV; how traditional can I be? By contrast, someone who actually lives a traditional life is a tradent. An Amish man is a tradent.

    I’ve lives without TV since I left home for college, back in ’75 … but if living like an Amishman is what it takes to be a Real Traditionalist, I’ll gladly pass.

  6. Though Entwives may be lacking, nevertheless young saplings are very much in evidence. Recall Treebeard’s pathos when confronted by Saruman’s deforestation and wreckless fire-based weapons program. “Some of these trees I have known from seed to sapling”.

  7. Treebeard: Many of these trees were my friends. Creatures I had known from nut or acorn.
    Pippin: I’m sorry, Treebeard.
    Treebeard: They had voices of their own. Saruman! A wizard should know better!

  8. Brevard Childs uses the term ‘tradent’ in reference to the faith community of the early Church that was involved in varying capacities in the canonization process (esp. re. the New Testament). See, for example, Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments (1992 ed.), p. 71. I had to look up the term, and in the process came across your BLOG.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s