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The Paradox of Tolerance

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Ana Suarez Aug 27, 2020

[1]Popper, K. (2012) [1945]. The Open Society and Its Enemies. Routledge. p. 581. 

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Intolerance defeats the whole purpose of being tolerant

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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni Aug 28, 2020
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Ana Suarez 5 months ago
I don't think this can be addressed with Maths. Let's take a historic example, the most obvious (assuming the risk of falling to Godwin's Law). The German Schutzstaffel. According to Ian Kershaw, by 1923 the force had eight to ten members; in 1945 there were a quarter million. Now, allow me to play counterfactuals: What would have happened if, intolerantly, they would have been incarcerated from the start? I am talking about people who openly acclaimed they would assassinate, torture, and starve other human beings (including kids) in concentration camps. After that experience (you can choose another one, there are plenty of them), are we the same? Is it the same -in terms of damage- to squash a criminal movement than allowing the Holocaust to happen? Are we not all responsible for preventing this from happening again? Shouldn't we all be ethically engaged in avoiding this? I have nothing against Maths; what I am trying to say here is that thoughts are not just thoughts. With the correct entourage and environment (I make this a premise), thoughts become concentration camps.
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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni5 months ago
I am sure Maths can help us answer this. I also agree that the thought of concentration camps is an extreme one and we all hope that such thoughts don't surface again. However, we have tried being intolerant since the beginning of human existence. Where do you think that has led us? Is the world at peace? What I am trying to say is policing is not the answer, for two reasons: 1) It does not suit the tolerant. 2) It does not make things "all good". We need to come up with better solutions.

Backing John Rawls' solution

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Anja M
Anja M Sep 06, 2020
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Ana Suarez 5 months ago
Rawls is always, in the end, talking about Popper :) I may add in that in 'Political Liberalism' he also addresses the issue of tolerance and poses the question about how to deal with intolerant creeds in a context of Liberal Democracy and draws the concept of ‘self-preservation’, that is not different to Popper’s. Just as Popper, Rawls is a rationalist and understands that banning a creed or an idea is ultima ratio and stresses that there must be a consensual rejection to it.

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