The Identity of Tradition
An understanding of how tradition can be used in the solution to the problems of communication, the transmission of knowledge, and group identity necessitates that we determine the conditions of its own identity. But this in turn requires that we have at least a working understanding of identity and how it can apply to tradition. 25
Identity, also referred to as sameness, is closely related to similarity. Indeed, it is not unusual to find authors who use ‘identical’ (or its rough synonym, ‘same’) and ‘similar’ interchangeably. This is so because in ordinary language we in fact use these terms interchangeably on some occasions. For example, we sometimes say that two blue-colored objects have identical color, even though the shades of blue in question might be different. In this sense, there is no difference between identity and similarity. But it is likewise true that we often entertain and use notions of identity and similarity which are different from each other. Indeed, in the very example just used, we also say that the two blue-colored objects are similar in color precisely because the particular shades of blue they have are different.
Among the important distinctions that can be made between the notions of identity and similarity, perhaps a key one is that similarity occurs always in
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Publication information: Book title: Old Wine in New Skins:The Role of Tradition in Communication, Knowledge, and Group Identity. Contributors: Jorge J. E. Gracia - Author. Publisher: Marquette University Press. Place of publication: Milwaukee. Publication year: 2003. Page number: 30.
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