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30 These topics serve as the poles around which the “internal discourses” of disciplines revolve. In internal discursive histories “historical traditions” of work are thereby distinguished from the artificial and constructed “analytical traditions” used by political and international theorists with a tendency to cast intellectual history into “epic” narratives.  G. Collingwood’s famous historicist assertion that there cannot be a grand tradition of political theory because political theorists in every age were not providing different answers to the same question, but rather offering answers to wholly different questions.

36 The concept of a “tradition” cannot but play a critical role in the interpretation of a thinker’s beliefs— the question is how best to conceive them and to analyze them. The Uses of Tradition [I]t belongs to the nature of a tradition to tolerate and unite an internal variety, not insisting upon conformity to a single character, and because, further, it has the ability to change without losing its identity. 38 It argues that accurate interpretations of texts require understandings not merely of the contemporary linguistic context or prevailing discourse, but of the intellectual inheritance bequeathed to an author by his or her forebears and of the ways in which an author modifies, retrenches, or abandons his or her understanding of that tradition.

They can come from real-world events or academic discussion. ” These new beliefs may or may not be consistent with other beliefs. Where they are inconsistent, a “dilemma” is produced, and a thinker may rationally reappraise their beliefs better to accommodate the new one, and in so doing, may adjust and modify a tradition of thinking about a particular subject. 57 No particular reaction or modification, it should be pointed out, was determined by the advent of this or any other theory—individual responses could, of course, take a number of different forms, depending on the traditions they had inherited and the beliefs they held to be true.

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