There has been a call for a discussion on tolerance in general, so I figured I'd put my foot into the water first.

Tolerance is a tricky subject; there's an old legal saying in the United States, "Your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose." Recognizing the legitimacy of people's beliefs can be difficult when those beliefs impact on the rights of others to have their own beliefs. The philosopher Herbert Marcuse, in his highly influential article, "Repressive Tolerance", discussed the issue of competing ideas being tolerated, and created the concept of "liberating tolerance", which he summarized as "Liberating tolerance, then, would mean intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements
from the Left.", a belief that has taken strong root in many educational institutions, and is part of the basis of the postmodernist belief in "political correctness", which differs from just plain "correctness" in its "if I close my eyes the world disappears" rejection of any factual data that contradicts neo-Marxist political theory (to the point of, for example, the forcing out of Harvard President Lawrence Summers a few years back for daring to even suggest that the fact that women do not progress as far in some fields as men might not be exclusively due to bigotry, and was worthy of study).

Since Theosophical doctrines are not required beliefs of members of most Theosophical Societies (beyond an agreement of the Three Objects, and by implication the concepts behind the Three Objects, for example that there IS a Brotherhood of Humanity), there are many beliefs that are held by many Theosophists which are contrary to Theosophical doctrine (often without even realizing it; doublethink is enabled by a refusal to see how two ideas held to be true are mutually contradictory). One way this can occur is by looking at open systems, and treating them as if they were closed systems, such as failure to commit an act that causes minor harm to prevent a situation that causes major harm (I have actually heard Theosophists, when asked what they did to help stop the atrocities during the 2nd World War, seriously say, "We meditated about it.").

There's a legal concept that took root in the late 20th century of "equivalent response". That is, if someone tries to do harm to you, you may not do any more harm to them than they tried to do to you. This has been considered by many to be a just idea, ignoring the fact that this means that the aggressor has the sole right to determine the level of response. An alternative idea of "appropriate response" is that if someone tries to do harm to you, you have the right to do that which is necessary and sufficient to MAKE THEM STOP. If someone has the belief system that it is OK for them to punch someone in the face, it should be considered their right to that belief system ends at the tip of that person's nose.

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Part of the key to tolerance is no anger. We all try (or wish to try) to be long-suffering with the many irritants of life, whether certain ideas, people, politics, noises, smells etcetera. What we mean, usually, is "do not lose my temper" sort of tolerance.

There are finer & more subtle forms of patience or tolerance, but for many of us, patience without anger or irritation would be a big step forward.


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