On toleration

Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski:

Toleration is best protected not so much by the law as by the preservation and strengthening of a tolerant society. We each of us have the potential for intolerance. The need to impose one’s own view of the world on others is strong. We would like everyone to believe what we believe, for only then do we feel spiritually on firm ground, and need no longer think about our beliefs or confront them with others. It is because of this that confrontations between different religious, philosophical or political beliefs involve so much aggression. But if intolerance, in other words the desire to convert others to one’s beliefs by aggressive or coercive means, were to be eradicated by a way of life in which no one believes anything and nothing matters to anyone except that life should be fun, then we are doomed, for sooner or later we shall fall victim to some sort of ideocracy. Let us not counter praise of coercion with praise of general indifference. 

Freedom, Fame, Lying, and Betrayal: Essays on Everyday Life


One thought on “On toleration

  1. It would appear to me that Kolakowski condemns both tolerance and intolerance; and probably rightly so. I would wonder if someone is so filled with the need to have someone believe them; is it more a matter of a deeper underlying issue.

    Tolerance and intolerance is only the by-product – sadly.

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