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Political TheologiesPublic Religions in a Post-Secular World$
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Hent de Vries and Lawrence E. Sullivan

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780823226443

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: March 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fso/9780823226443.001.0001

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Toleration Without Tolerance: Enlightenment and the Image of Reason

Toleration Without Tolerance: Enlightenment and the Image of Reason

(p.327) Toleration Without Tolerance: Enlightenment and the Image of Reason
Political Theologies

Lars Tønder

Fordham University Press

Contemporary attempts to justify tolerance and toleration converge on the importance of reason. The argument for this, on behalf of what we might call the “model of reasonable toleration”, is that reason is available to everyone who is willing to give to others what they want for themselves. It is always open to revision, and its laws apply universally. This makes it the right candidate for being the neutral yet case-sensitive arbitrator in societies with conflicting notions of the common good. This chapter investigates the historical and intellectual underpinnings—and limitation—of the fundamentally Christian idea of tolerance. It explores the religious and moral sensibilities and normative claims that underlie or are solicited by the concept, the function, and the practice of tolerance. It thinks through the concept's sui generis character—that is to say, its irreducibility to other constitutive concepts of the political, such as freedom, justice, and truth—by drawing on an unorthodox canon of 18th-century Enlightenment and 20th-century phenomenological thinkers, including John Locke, Immanuel Kant, Voltaire, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty.

Keywords:   tolerance, reason, toleration, moral sensibilities, freedom, justice, truth, John Locke, Immanuel Kant, Voltaire, Maurice Merleau-Ponty

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