woensdag 18 mei 2016

Right he is

Against all cynicism the philosopher Jurriaan Rood emphasizes that our Western society is indeed based on strong principles. In reaction to pessimistic sounds about political and social polarization, he states: “The biggest mistake is to think that we are a groundless, aimless society. Western society has very clear principles – we have grossly neglected them in recent decades, but we should exhibit them with more consciousness and pride: the separation of church and state, the monopoly of the state on violence and tolerance of dissent”.

To this he adds, going against the usual glorification of ‘Judeo-Christian values’: “Note that in these matters it is not the Judeo-Christian culture against Islam or something. Neither in the Christian nor in the Jewish culture tolerance was an important value”.

Right he is. Traditional Christian intolerance toward non-Christians is well known enough and I leave it out of consideration here. Jewish intolerance is perhaps less in the front of the mind, but there’s certainly been. Especially against dissent in the own Jewish circle, such as against Uriel da Costa and Baruch Spinoza.

Nevertheless, with regard to the latter intolerance a side remark is in place. Because if one, within the Jewish tradition, did not put into question the foundations (as did Da Costa and Spinoza), there was a lot room for maneuver. Then you could have a dissenting opinion which was at odds with that of authoritative rabbis and still be  mentioned in the Talmud. Then a sometimes dizzying variety of opinions was allowed, for which you may also use the word ‘tolerance’.

Especially when you compare it with the handling of losers of the internal Christian debates, such as found place at the councils of Nicea and Constantinople. They were just written out of history.

Also see Collectivity and Individual