Between Indifference and the Regimes of Truth. An Essay on Fundamentalism, Tolerance and Hypocrisy

Philosophia 44 (3):689-703 (2016)
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There are two basic positions where tolerance as political strategy and moral viewpoint is rejected or made redundant. We are hostile to tolerance when we hold that we are defending an objective truth—religious or secular—which should also be defended and maintained by means of political and legal power. And tolerance become superfluous also when the affirmation of plurality becomes total, and tolerance identical to a vive la difference. As recent developments in my own country—the Netherlands—have demonstrated, the political outcome of this last position is remarkably enough not necessarily an all-inclusive relativistic tolerance. It may just as well be one of intolerance towards ‘believers’ of all kinds, in short: tolerance becomes polemical and belligerent. Turning to religious fundamentalism or ultra-orthodoxy could then become a possible reaction to this relativistic and subjectivist position, as demonstrated in Isaac Bashevis Singer’s novel The Penitent. Between these two positions of hostility or indifference towards tolerance, we can situate that democratic attitude which may rightly be called ‘tolerance’. As ethical position, the tolerant citizen accepts the democratic disjunction between my truth and the symmetrical justice between citizens. As political strategy, a tolerant democratic regime is based upon a political act of exclusion of what I will here call ‘political fundamentalism’.



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Leviathan.Thomas Hobbes - 1651 - Harmondsworth,: Penguin Books. Edited by C. B. Macpherson.
Leviathan.Thomas Hobbes - 2006 - In Aloysius Martinich, Fritz Allhoff & Anand Vaidya (eds.), Early Modern Philosophy: Essential Readings with Commentary. Blackwell.
On Toleration.Michael Walzer - 1997 - Yale University Press.
On Toleration.Michael Walzer - 1997 - Yale University Press.

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