Author Topic: Philosophise This! - Tolerance (Karl Popper, Voltaire, Intolerance as a Virtue)  (Read 268 times)

Offline Shiranu


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So this link will take you to the transcript; on the right side of the page is the audio format on several different streaming services. If you are into philosophy I would highly recommend this guy's channel, some real quality content over a wide field of subjects.

Anyways, I'll separate it into the two things that really interested me...


1. Voltaire, Intolerance as a Virtue, and the Westborough Baptist Church

After his initial question, he begins to talk about the history of tolerance through human history, which as it turns out... is basically none of it. And this is where it get's interesting to me...

During Voltaire's time, tolerance was not considered a virtue... it was in fact considered cowardice. When Enlightenment philosophers like Voltaire, Locke, Montesquieu were teaching tolerance, the overwhelming majority of the people and the intelligentsia believed that intolerance (particularly religious intolerance) was not just okay but a virtue; if you knew your neighbour was going to hell because he followed the wrong faith, why would you be tolerant of it? If you truly believe in hell then the morally just thing to do is to do everything you can to convert them (or kill them so they don't condemn others to eternal damnation).

The analogy he used is if your neighbour's house is on fire, and you hear them screaming for help... would you not do what you could to save them? So why would the fires of hell for eternity be any different? Why would you not fight infinitely harder to save them if you truly believed? And this is... frankly... really good logic.


Because of this world view... imagine the Westborough Baptist Church. Today, they are looked down upon... but only a hundred or two years ago they would have been moral paragons that the masses looked up to for their self-sacrifice.


The two takeaways for me is that one, that helps put it in much better perspective... it's one thing to know it was horrible, and another to have modern day examples that we can, loosely, compare it to. Secondly, it's interesting because it notes just how rooted in intolerance culture is and how it is the much easier side of the coin to land and stay on.


2. Karl Popper's, "Paradox of Tolerance"

Likewise I find Popper's paradox to be quite interesting, because he states that a tolerant society is the ideal and yet tolerance is not an inherently good thing, and intolerance can be better than tolerance. In his words...


Quote
β€œUnlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.”


Essentially, society has to decide where the line between what is an acceptable amount of tolerance and what is an acceptable amount of intolerance is, with neither extreme being healthy to society... and I think in the last 5-10 years we have really seen this philosophical debate come to the front of Western society. The irony is that this debate over philosophical ideology has become so much the focus that the actual issues this philosophical debate are suppose to be solving don't actually get addressed.

Both sides need to take responsibility, but at the end of the day the eternal threat is intolerance overwhelming tolerance, and unfortunately as a society we have reached a point where I feel that is certainly becoming the case again. And I don't just mean intolerance of minorities or whatever... I mean intolerance of opposing ideological ideologies where they are not addressed rationally and likewise intolerance of rational rebuttals to your ideology.


This of course makes sense though, given intolerance seems to be the natural course of human behaviour. Tolerance is constantly fighting a losing battle, and quite likely might not actually have a real place in human society. In a few hundred years, if we haven't wiped ourselves out or do find a way to survive the impending environmental crises, tolerant society may be looked back in history books as this absolutely insane and barbaric philosophy... just like we view the radical intolerance of Voltaire's time as insane and barbaric.

What makes sense to us today in terms of personal liberty, religious freedom, what is right and wrong may seem absolutely barbaric and moronic in a hundred years... just as massive events of intolerance such as the Holocaust, the Inquisitions and the like made perfect logical sense at the time.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2019, 11:02:01 PM by Shiranu »
"Judge a moth by the beauty of its candle." - Rumi

Offline Baruch

Damn, someone is waking up from their LSD trip and sex orgy.  Voltaire wanted to use British culture to smash French culture.  He was Anglo-phile.  Rousseau was Native-American-phile.  Both were anti-semitic and deeply anti-French.

Karl Popper ... is covered in "Wittgenstein's Poker".  You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login  He was an interesting friend of democracy, unlike the fucking Continental Europeans.

You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login ... by Karl Popper.

Tolerance was important to Voltaire, because he should have been guillotined by the King of France ;-)  Rousseau should have been exiled to live among the Canadian Indians.  Intolerance was important to Popper, because tolerating Hitler was exactly what Neville Chamberlain was all about.

You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login ... so a good web page ... he recommends A Brief History of Thought by Luc Ferry ... which I have read and recommend.  And he is French (oh noes).
« Last Edit: February 26, 2019, 12:57:46 AM by Baruch »
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luu shalmaata luu balt’aata
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Offline Shiranu

Quote
Damn, someone is waking up from their LSD trip and sex orgy.

Worse part is, I missed the sex orgies and only got some shrooms :(. I feel cheated a bit, tbh.

(Actually, I have always loved philosophy... even before the psychedelics. )

Quote
Karl Popper ... is covered in "Wittgenstein's Poker".  You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login  He was an interesting friend of democracy, unlike the fucking Continental Europeans.

I'll have to check that out, a friend of mine is a big Wittgenstein fan. I would say though that Popper was born, raised and trained in the "Continental European" train of thought, so I would consider him a Continental European.

"Judge a moth by the beauty of its candle." - Rumi

Offline Cavebear

OK, first, that the majority at the time of Locke were saying tolerance was not a virtue means nothing today.

Second, you equated over-tolerance to generally social tolerance and that is not the same thing.
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead!

Offline Baruch

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Worse part is, I missed the sex orgies and only got some shrooms :(. I feel cheated a bit, tbh.

(Actually, I have always loved philosophy... even before the psychedelics. )

I'll have to check that out, a friend of mine is a big Wittgenstein fan. I would say though that Popper was born, raised and trained in the "Continental European" train of thought, so I would consider him a Continental European.

Popper defected.  They don't always choke on brie.
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luu shalmaata luu balt’aata
May you be well, may you be healthy

Offline Baruch

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OK, first, that the majority at the time of Locke were saying tolerance was not a virtue means nothing today.

Second, you equated over-tolerance to generally social tolerance and that is not the same thing.

Political tolerance is different than social tolerance.  If I tolerated a nudist colony, should I tolerate neo-Nazis?
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luu shalmaata luu balt’aata
May you be well, may you be healthy

Offline Cavebear

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Political tolerance is different than social tolerance.  If I tolerated a nudist colony, should I tolerate neo-Nazis?

I would hesitate to suggest that.  The image of nudist goose-stepping Nazis is rather disturbing.  But, political tolerance IS quite different from social tolerance!
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead!

Offline Baruch

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I would hesitate to suggest that.  The image of nudist goose-stepping Nazis is rather disturbing.  But, political tolerance IS quite different from social tolerance!

Agreed.  Hope you liked that theater of the absurd I projected into your brain.
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luu shalmaata luu balt’aata
May you be well, may you be healthy

 

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