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the fundamental reconstitution of the position of people in the world
October 15, 2011, 6:08 pm
Filed under: the sweet life | Tags: , , , ,

Not traditional ideas but just how people fit in the world will usher in change, says Czech ex president Vaclav Havel in the quotation below.  Traditional ideas could include ideologies, parties, manifestos etc.  But what does Havel’s phrase ‘reconstitution of the position of people’ mean?

Tradition has been described as having two forms:  sedimented and reactivated (Ricoeur).  In sedimented tradition the ideas that were originally seen as beneficial to society have become encrusted and hidden and rendered more or less useless.  In reactivated tradition, the originating forms are made vital and useful again.

This could be Havel’s claim here, that our ‘conceptions’ are sedimented tradition and are no longer serving us; and that repositioning people in the world is an act of creativity and innovation which reactivates a real and vital form of tradition.

Here is Havel’s statement:

a genuine, profound and lasting change for the better … can no longer result from the victory of any particular traditional conception … [but] derive from human existence, from the fundamental reconstitution of the position of people in the world, their relationship to themselves and each other and to the universe.

Vaclav Havel

Here is a description of Ricoeur’s philosophy of tradition:

Ricoeur’s philosophy with its dialectic of sedimentation and innovation shows that creativity is not necessarily opposed to tradition.  In fact, he argues, there is no tradition without innovation, for tradition is a record of sedimented past innovations.  Likewise there is no innovation (creativity) without tradition, for innovation takes place in relation to an established (sedimented) tradition.

Dialectic of sedimentation and innovation: Paul Ricœur on creativity after …,  By Mabiala Justin-Robert Kenzo


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