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Discourses of Tolerance & Intolerance in the European Enlightenment

Discourses of Tolerance & Intolerance in the European Enlightenment

Hans Erich Bödeker
Clorinda Donato
Peter Hanns Reill
  • Book Info
    Discourses of Tolerance & Intolerance in the European Enlightenment
    Book Description:

    The principle of tolerance is one of the most enduring legacies of the Enlightenment. However, scholarly works on the topic to date have been primarily limited to traditional studies based on a historical, 'progressive' view or to the critiques of contemporary writers such as Adorno, Horkheimer, Foucault, and MacIntyre, who believed that the core beliefs of the Enlightenment, including tolerance, could actually be used as vehicles of repression and control rather than as agents promoting individual and group freedom.This collection of original essays by a distinguished international group of contributors looks at the subject in a new light and from a number of angles, focusing on the concept of tolerance at the point where the individual, or group, converges or clashes with the state.

    The volume opens with introductory essays that provide essential background to the major shift in thinking in regard to tolerance that occurred during the eighteenth century, while considering the general problem of writing a history of tolerance. The remaining essays, organized around two central themes, trace the expansion of the discourses of tolerance and intolerance. The first group treats tolerance and intolerance in relation to the spheres of religious and political thought and practice. The second examines the extension of broad issues of tolerance and intolerance in the realms of race, gender, deviancy, and criminality. While offering an in-depth consideration of these complex issues in the context of the Enlightenment, the volume sheds light on many similar challenges facing contemporary society.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8788-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Contributors
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-16)

    Tolerance, conceived as a positive general principle essential to the proper functioning of pluralistic democracy and contemporary Western civil society, is a child of the Enlightenment. But it is a child all too often abandoned in the face of competing exclusionary principles such as religion, race, ethnicity, nationality, and normality. Tolerance and intolerance, therefore, act together in a dynamic relationship that has produced results ranging from the highly beneficial to the tragic. If we, today, tend to prefer policies of toleration to those of exclusion, we must in part thank the Enlightenment, for it was only in that era that...

  6. Prologue: Towards a Reconstruction of the Discourse on Tolerance and Intolerance in the Age of Enlightenment
    (pp. 17-26)

    In modern understanding, tolerance is generally understood as the capability of individuals, groups, and institutions to respect contrary, novel, or strange views, attitudes, values, and modes of behaviour. No longer restricted to the mere endurance or acceptance of the Other (des Anderen),tolerance now means actively appreciating and guaranteeing distinctness. Therefore, tolerance also entails acknowledging a free realm of action for the Other. The question of tolerance touches on essential problems of human association, especially those of persecution, repression, intimidation, and the abuse of power; and therefore, the problem of tolerance always coexists with its intrinsic opposite, intolerance. As a...

  7. one Toleration and Ragion di Stato: Jews and Protestants in the Savoyard State, ca. 1650–1750
    (pp. 27-52)

    The Savoyard state of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was in many respects an archetypal Counter-Reformation polity.² Its staunchly Roman Catholic inhabitants distrusted the small religious minorities, Jewish and Protestant, who lived in their midst. The Savoyard rulers grudgingly accepted the presence of these minorities for political and economic reasons – for reason of state orragion di stato, in Italian – not out of devotion to the ideal of tolerance.³ In normal times they kept popular hostility to the non-Catholic minorities firmly in check, but when it served their purposes – as in the massacre of Protestants in 1686 – they allowed these...

  8. two Locke and the Problem of Toleration
    (pp. 53-72)

    In this essay, I want to consider John Locke and the problem of toleration from two interrelated perspectives. First, I will attempt to state what role I think the problem of toleration played in shaping Locke’s thought, and that of many of his contemporaries, in late seventeenth-century England. Here the focus will be on the arguments Locke employed in defence of religious toleration and the relationship between those arguments and Locke’s political thought viewed as a whole. Locke’sLetter Concerning Toleration(1689) has been in print for more than three centuries, and it might be supposed that Locke’s position on...

  9. three Political Parties and the Legitimacy of Opposition
    (pp. 73-99)

    It might seem odd, at first sight, to attempt to link the concept of ‘party’ to the growth of tolerance in Western societies. When today we think of political parties we are apt to associate them with difference and division, with partisan wrangling, with conflict more often petty than principled. And who can deny that this picture, like any good caricature, contains more than a grain of truth? But, however accurate, the caricature conceals another, and perhaps more significant, truth: the idea and the institution of the modern political party is a moral and intellectual achievement of no small importance,...

  10. four Millenarianism and Tolerance
    (pp. 100-115)

    Norman Cohn, inPursuit of the MillenniumandWarrant for Genocide, attempted to link millenarian activities with the worst kinds of intolerance. He surveyed millenarian groups from medieval times to the present and included both communism and Nazism, viewed as secular millenarian movements, in his analysis. Among the groups he investigated were several aggressive groups of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, who believed it their divinely given duty to prepare for the millennium by scourging and eliminating the enemies of God: Jews, the Antichrist and his allies, who were identified as the Pope and his officials, and other infidels.¹ But...

  11. five The Practice of Religious Tolerance and Intolerance in Late Eighteenth-Century Württemberg
    (pp. 116-129)

    In the context of our general theme, and in particular in the context of this chapter, two questions seem of special interest: First, was there progress in the degree of tolerance towards sectarian groups in the course of the eighteenth century? The assumption underlying this question is the widespread belief that religious tolerance ruled when enlightened thought triumphed. Second, how valid is the assumption that – because of economic motives – absolutism, and enlightened despotism in particular, tended to be more tolerant in religious matters than the established churches, both Catholic and Protestant? Is there a difference in the way enlightened political...

  12. six Jewish Emancipation in France in the Eighteenth Century
    (pp. 130-143)

    On the eve of the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly, Adrien Du Port, deputy of the nobility of Paris, arose and demanded full rights for the Jews. He argued that the principle of freedom of religion permitted no distinction in the political rights of citizens because of their faith: ‘I believe,’ he continued, ‘that the Jews cannot be the only ones excepted from the enjoyment of these rights when pagans, Turks, Muslims, even Chinese, in a word men of all religions, are admitted.’¹ Only one voice disagreed, as the deputies (many of whom might have objected had they not already...

  13. seven The Jewish Question in Eighteenth-Century Germany
    (pp. 144-152)

    The scholarship on German Jewry in the eighteenth century has been so relentlessly teleological in its focus on the causes of emancipation, especially on apparently proximate causes such as Christian Wilhelm Dohm’s 1781 tract,On the Civic Amelioration of the Jews‚ that we know precious little about the discourse of toleration and intolerance throughout the eighteenth century. Here I would like to delineate some of the factors that might be considered in a fuller account.

    The discourse about Jews in the German states shifted in the course of the eighteenth century from a discussion of toleration to a discussion of...

  14. eight Discrediting Slavery: From the Société des Amis des Noirs to the Haitian Revolution – Ideological Patterns and Anthropological Discourses
    (pp. 153-169)

    On Monday, 12 September 1785, the inhabitants of Lyon witnessed a strange event: as a matter of fact, they saw a procession of former slaves, bought from the bey of Algiers by the archbishops of Lyon and Paris so that they could be emancipated. According to the detailed information provided by theJournal de Lyon, the 313 slaves, who for the most part were white French people, had cost the considerable sum of 639,052 pounds, ‘including quarantine costs, travel expenses, and costs necessary for enabling them to rejoin their families.’¹ Although this was not the first buyout – one had already...

  15. nine The Intolerable Other
    (pp. 170-191)

    The eighteenth century’s most entrancing fantasy of cultural and gender alterity combined an evanescent figure fashioned from the travel journals of Commerson, La Dixmarie, and Bougainville as thevahiné, the tawny-coloured Tahitian woman emerging like Botticelli’s Venus from the seas to offer herself to the European voyager. To quote that twentiethcentury traveller, Victor Ségalen, ‘the vahiné is absorbed by desire.’ Her ‘reality, her secret, lies in her silence.’ And not for a moment, ‘does she belong to herself.’¹ Ségalen’s reflection seems to suggest a transgeographic, transhistorical phenomenon within the psyche of the European male voyager. What Commerson, La Dixmarie, Bougainville,...

  16. ten Masculinity, Lunacy, and the Sexual Deviant
    (pp. 192-203)

    The modern insane asylum and the profession of psychiatry first emerged from the lunacy reforms in late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth-century Europe and North America.¹ These reforms were products of the Enlightenment and its discourse of tolerance and humanitarianism. Specialized medical institutions for the cure of the mentally ill came to replace the multi-functional workhouses and prisons of the absolutist states, as the mad came to be seen as a suffering, ill, and abused group who could and should be restored to society by humane medical care.

    Since Foucault and the antipsychiatry critiques of the 1960s, the basic premises of the reformers...

  17. eleven Extirpation and Toleration: Villain and Whore – Some Thoughts about the Toleration of ‘Social Evil’ in Bourgeois Society
    (pp. 204-230)

    Of the many dangerous types of criminals who commanded the attention of German criminologists and penal reformers in the early nineteenth century, one type,Gauners,earned especially intense condemnation. Gauners were professional villains who specialized in property crimes and who seemed unresponsive to penal and moral interventions, traits that made them particular thorns in the sides of prosecutors and criminologists alike. Franz Andreas Wennmohs, the magistrate from Mecklenburg who wroteUeber Gauner und über das zweckmäßigste vielmehr einzige Mittel zur Vertilgung dieses Uebels(1823), captured the attitude of his contemporaries most dramatically when, through the device of a metaphor, he...

  18. Index
    (pp. 231-257)