Is Tolerance a Virtue?

The purpose of this collegium is to establish a group for those interested in ancient philosophy and a place where philosophical discussion and study may take place. Join at: ... sophiae/42

Moderators: Marca Marcia, Gaius Flavius Aetius, Paullus Aemilius Gallus, Aula Flavia Philippa

Re: Is Tolerance a Virtue?

Postby Lucia Horatia Adamas » Wed Jan 17, 2018 10:59 am

L. Horatia Adamas P. Sextio Lævo omnibusque S.P.D.

Aw, Læve, you're being such a spoilsport! ;-) Playing den Walkürenritt is a favorite thing of mine (so stirring! so lovely!) --when I don't have quieter pursuits to perform, such as this year's eternal round of snow shoveling. Those of us who live in detached suburban houses need not worry about that sort of thing in the wee hours of the morning: the neighbors are zonked, and wouldn't hear a single note. They might not hear a bomb. Now, in dormitories and apartment buildings and condos (is anything allowed in condos?), one must be courteous and considerate, and not play even 'Rock a bye, baby' at dinner time. I'm quite sure that my neighbor does not hear my Vedic chanting or my ragas, and I doubt that die Walküren would intrude on her consciousness. I have been exposed to a lot of 'music' disturbing my cogitations, from outdoor workmen and passing cars and what not, and very loud music in my dorm when one or another would finish exams and expose those who had to study for theirs to umpteen decibels of godawful racket--but that is really a matter of consideration for others, of proper upbringing.

One should NEVER tolerate injustice, or actions meant to be offensive. The KKK burnt a cross in a relative's yard; are we supposed to tolerate that, or swastika painting and Sieg Heiling? Murders of Sikhs, who to the ignorant resemble Muslims--and who therefore must be terrorists...

Bonam noctem! I've enjoyed the posts on this, but can't comment too much at present.
Lucia Horatia Adamas
Posts: 146
Joined: Mon Sep 19, 2016 11:20 am

Re: Is Tolerance a Virtue?

Postby Appius Claudius Tuscus » Thu Jan 18, 2018 1:34 am

Salvete -

I would second Iuventius Catulus's objection, that "tolerance" should not be equated with "doormat status".

The problem here may be in the word, as suggested. Tolerance, in English as I know it, does not necessarily mean yielding to or enabling evil (defining evil, by my lights, as conscious, intentional harm). It seems we're looking at several kinds of Tolerance:

1. Tolerantia, id est, sustaining the adverse, endurance (the Roman meaning, as Lupus said).
2. Common Tolerance, id est, putting up with petty adversities, things which irk, things which are in one's opinion ugly, dirty, or improperly done. (This would be my understanding of the common modern definition.)
3. Universal Passivity, id est, the kind of tolerance which Lupus takes issue with, meaning over-tolerance, in which the person refuses to be an agent of any kind.

The first two are Stoic and partake of all the Four Virtues - Fortitude, Iustitia, Wisdom, and Temperance. I don't think Philosophy itself could survive in any public way without a good dose of public tolerance. I would assert that Tolerance is akin to Freedom of Conscience.

What's interesting also is how we navigate between the 2nd and the 3rd, trying to stay Just and Wise.

Moreover, I think we're justifiably hesitant in condemning tolerance-in-general, given that doing so would be yet another green light for Intolerance and barbarism.

User avatar
Appius Claudius Tuscus
Posts: 56
Joined: Sat Mar 12, 2016 2:57 am


Return to Collegium Philosophicum