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Boundaries of Toleration

Boundaries of Toleration

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    Boundaries of Toleration
    Book Description:

    How can people of diverse religious, ethnic, and linguistic allegiances and identities live together without committing violence, inflicting suffering, or oppressing each other? In this volume, contributors explore the limits of toleration and suggest we think beyond them to mutual respect. Salman Rushdie reflects on the once tolerant Sufi-Hindu culture of Kashmir. Ira Katznelson follows with an intellectual history of toleration as a layered institution in the West. Charles Taylor advances a new approach to secularism in our multicultural world, and Akeel Bilgrami responds by offering context and caution to that approach. Nadia Urbinati explores why Cicero's humanist ideal of Concord was not used in response to religious discord. The volume concludes with a refutation of the claim that toleration was invented in the West. Rajeev Bhargava writes on Asoka's India, and Karen Barkey explores toleration within the Ottoman and Habsburg Empires. Sudipta Kaviraj examines accommodations and conflicts in India, and Alfred Stepan highlights contributions to toleration and multiple democratic secularisms in such Muslim-majority countries as Indonesia and Senegal.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-53633-2
    Subjects: Political Science, History, Philosophy, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-xii)
    (pp. 1-6)

    How can people of diverse religious, historical, ethnic, and linguistic allegiances and identities live together? And that means: without violence and without the domination of some by others, without inflicting suffering on each other? This is certainly one of our major preoccupations today. But it has recurrently preoccupied people and societies throughout history. Even when domination of some by others was considered normal and inevitable, rulers often tried to avoid its more brutal forms.

    To help us begin our reconsideration of toleration in the widest possible way, we invited Salman Rushdie, the Booker Prize–winning novelist ofMidnight’s Children, to...

    (pp. 7-34)

    GAURI VISWANTHAN: It’s a real pleasure to be here with you, Salman. Thank you for joining us in the launch of the institute and I want very much to thank Nick Dirks and Mark Taylor for inviting me to be a part of this conversation. Salman, your novels team with stories within stories that get at different levels of religious experience, and you often turn to myth, miracles, and magic to reflect on that experience. Let me begin by asking a simple question, not about religion and the imagination, the title of this session, but about religion as imagination. If,...


    • A FORM OF LIBERTY AND INDULGENCE: Toleration as a Layered Institution
      (pp. 37-58)

      Toleration is profoundly important. It addresses some of the most difficult and persistent features of human social relations. Combinations of hierarchy and loathing across group lines recur frequently in recorded history, notably, but not exclusively, when cultural pluralism takes religious form. The pervasive, protean, and passionate qualities of religious imaginations and identities combine belief with practical social organization. Hand in hand, religious and political contention can create markers of solidarity, incommensurability, and enmity that expose different faiths, especially minority faiths and their adherents, to zealotry and danger. Often led by specialists in violence, such processes under conditions of diversity that...

      (pp. 59-78)

      Everyone agrees today that modern, diverse democracies have to be “secular” in some sense of this term. But what sense? The term (along with the corresponding French termlaïcité,and its derivatives) has more than one sense. There are in fact many different meanings, but I believe that we can get to a crucial issue if we single out two key conceptions.

      On one view (A), secularism is mainly concerned with controlling religion. Its task is to define the place of religion in public life and to keep it firmly in this location. This doesn’t need to involve strife or...

    • SECULARISM: Its Content and Context
      (pp. 79-129)

      I begin with three fundamental features of the idea of secularism. I will want to make something of them at different stages of the passage of my argument in this chapter for the conclusion—among others—that the relevance of secularism is contextual in very specific ways.

      If secularism has its relevance only in context, then it is natural and right to think that it will appear in different forms and guises in different contexts. But I write down these opening features of secularism at the outset because they seem to me to be invariant between the different forms that...

    • HALF-TOLERATION: Concordia and the Limits of Dialogue
      (pp. 130-170)

      The place of God in the constitution has been one of the most sensitive issues in the debate on the constitutional treaty of the European Union, and this has influenced the process of ratification.¹ In the five decades since the Treaty of Rome was signed in 1957, European leaders have tried to build a united Europe on asecularfoundation of treaties and economic regulations. These no longer seem to be adequate to the task. Lately, efforts have been made to include another factor—religion. In 2006 Chancellor Merkel spoke in favor of areference to Godin the European...


    • BEYOND TOLERATION: Civility and Principled Coexistence in Asokan Edicts
      (pp. 173-202)

      Secular nationalism developed in India with its own myths and legends. In his self-transformative, nationalist classic,The Discovery of India,Jawaharlal Nehru quotes H. G. Wells: “Amidst the tens of thousands of names of monarchs that crowd the columns of history . . . the name of Asoka shines, and shines almost alone, a star. . . . More living men cherish his memory today than have ever heard of Constantine or Charlemagne.”¹ In another work,Glimpses of World History,Nehru writes,

      Men of religion have seldom, very seldom, been as tolerant as Ashoka. In order to convert people to...

    • EMPIRE AND TOLERATION: A Comparative Sociology of Toleration Within Empire
      (pp. 203-232)

      Toleration by itself has become a contested term. It evokes cultural and social inequality, a solution in multicultural settings when differences cannot be fully accepted or assimilated and toleration remains the next best thing for the management of society without internecine violence. Critics argue that toleration is necessarily embedded in power relations where the powerful make decisions about how to tolerate the “intolerable.” Others argue that toleration bypasses judgment on cultural difference, accepts and relativizes, but does not expose culture to criticism. These criticisms remain interesting, but they do not provide us with the tools to construct a different form...

    • MODERNITY, STATE, AND TOLERATION IN INDIAN HISTORY: Exploring Accommodations and Partitions
      (pp. 233-266)

      There is a common prejudice in modern social sciences that views the question of toleration through a simple linear narrative and presents a plausible progressivist view of the relation between religion, modernity, and the practice of toleration. I would like to suggest that this belief is detrimental to a real understanding of historical evidence, drawing primarily on the complex experience of the Indian subcontinent.

      Modern social science absorbed from the Enlightenment a persistent tendency to present a narrative of linear development of human civilization in which each successive stage is viewed as an improvement on the previous one, and at...

    • MUSLIMS AND TOLERATION: Unexamined Contributions to the Multiple Secularisms of Modern Democracies
      (pp. 267-296)

      Almost a decade ago I helped launch a debate asking how we should we interpret the following set of facts. For more than thirty-five yearsnot a singleMuslim has lived in an Arab majority state that has been considered a democracy by any of the three most utilized social science annual reports on the status of political rights and civil liberties in the world. In sharp contrast, even when we exclude the 160 million non-Arab Muslims living in democratic India, the same three reports indicate that there are more than over 300millionMuslims living in non-Arab Muslim majority...

    (pp. 297-300)
  8. INDEX
    (pp. 301-316)