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This page is about "tolerance" as a social concept. For other uses, see tolerance (disambiguation).

Image:CrossMenorahOxford 20051225KaihsuTai.jpg Tolerance is a social, culturaland religiousterm applied to the collective and individual practice of not persecutingthose who may believe, behave or act in ways of which one may not approve. It is closely related to the political concept of toleration. Authoritarian systems practice intolerance, the opposite of tolerance. Tolerance is seen as a more widely acceptable term than "acceptance" and particularly "respect," where the application to controversial parties is concerned. Tolerance implies both the ability to punish and the conscious decision not to. It is usually applied to non-violent, consensual behavior, often involving religion, sex, or politics. It rarely permits violent behavior.

In the wider sociological sense, "tolerance" carries with it the understanding that "intolerance" and conformitybreeds violenceand social instability. "Tolerance" has thus become the social term of choice to define the practical rationale of permitting uncommon social practice and diversity. One only tolerates people who are disliked for their differences. While people deemed undesirable may be disapproved of, "tolerance" would require that the party or group in question be left undisturbed, physically or otherwise, and that criticism directed toward them be free of inflammatory or inciteful efforts.


  • 1 Politics and religion
  • 2 Tolerance as a virtue
  • 3 See also
  • 4 External links

Politics and religion

Historically, politicaland religious tolerancehave been the most important aspects of tolerance, since differences of political and religious ideology have led to innumerable wars, purges and other atrocities. The philosophers and writers of the enlightenment, especially Voltaireand Lessing, promoted religious tolerance, and their influence is strongly felt in Westernsociety (see pluralism). Unfortunately, they failed to treat with sufficient rigor the equally important issue of political tolerance. While a lack religious tolerance causes problems in many regions of the world today, differences of political ideology caused hundreds of millions of deaths in the twentieth century alone. A desideratum of contemporary scholarship, therefore, is to develop a more expansive critical theory of political toleration. This is particularly urgent in the West, where the influence of religion in public policy making continues to decline, especially in Europe but also in North America.

However, the unattributed quote "there's only one thing I can't tolerate - and that's intolerance" illustrates that there are limits to tolerance. In particular, a tolerant society cannot tolerate intolerance, which would destroy it. In other words, toleration is a device used to introduce a new thought system as a prelude to a new intolerance. It is difficult to strike a balance, however, and different societies do not always agree on the details. In some countries, the continuing suppression of Nazismin Germanyis considered intolerant, for instance. Issues that may be controversial in various countries might include the separation of church and state, homosexuality, the consumption of tobacco, alcoholic beveragesand other drugs, reading disapproved political tracts, and deviant sexual acts as well as the correct reaction to disorderly conduct and misdemeanours (see zero tolerance policy).

Tolerance as a virtue

As an Aristotelian virtue, tolerance is a middleground between softheadedness on the one hand (overtolerance) and narrow mindedness on the other (undertolerance).

See also

  • Allophilia
  • Autism rights movement
  • Diversity
  • Fat acceptance movement
  • Freedom of religion
  • Grey area
  • Heresy
  • Inquisition
  • Neurodiversity
  • Penal laws
  • Prejudice
  • Religious pluralism

External links

Wikiquotehas a collection of quotations related to:
  • Canadian Webzine. Publishes articles in English and French. Independent and neutral with regard to all political and religious orientations, Tolerance.ca® aims to promote awareness of the major democratic principles on which tolerance is based.
  • Declaration of Principles on Tolerance. Available in English, French and Spanish. Proclaimed and signed by the Member States of UNESCO on 16 November1995. This text defines tolerance and aims to explain its various dimensions using human rights as a framework.
  • A story from the Talmud teaching tolerance.da:Tolerance

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It uses material from the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tolerance Wikipedia article Tolerance.

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