Tolerance as aGuiding Principle
David Orban www.davidorban.com Transcript of the inaugural speech at the Ibn Khaldun Lecture series on Al-Andalus Alhambra on April 27 2008
Thank you for attending this evening the inaugurallecture in the Ibn Khaldun Lecture series on Al-Andalus Alhambra! I want to thank Michel Manenfor inviting me, for inviting me back, after an other inaugural lecture that I gave for him more than ayear ago. It is evident with how much passion and persistence Michel built the basis of Al-Andalus,and of the community that you see around, made of people, and of the principles that drive them.I will start with an introduction, wherewe will look at Ibn Khaldun’s contributions toculture and science.In the first part of our conversation I willdescribe what I view as the basis of tolerance or lack of tolerance in our societies.In the second part, based on an analogywith the characteristics that we identify in the first part, I will look at the nature of robust IT systems.In the third part we will look at how canonline worlds evolve social systems based on these principles? Can these systems teach a lesson tothose of the physical world?In conclusion, I will want to make some proposals based on the lessons learned during thelecture. ...So let’s start!I am honored to start a lecture series named after such an important figure in the culture, and historyof humankind.Ibn Khaldun lived in the 14th century, in what istoday Tunisia. He was a scholar, historian,theologian, and a statesman, and he is consideredthe father of several scientific disciplines, such asdemography, sociology, and modern economics. Of the social sciences in general! His theory of socialconflict and of social cohesion expressed in hismajor work, the Muqaddimah, as well as hiseconomic analysis of value added labor processesare recognized as the basis of the modern analysesof these important elements.His life has been in balance between his scientificendeavors, and the realism of the political sphere ashe had to constantly strive for a position of stabilityamong the rapidly changing powers of his time.This is very much true of all of us, as we are torn between our quests for knowledge, andunderstanding, and the needs of our personal,social, and professional lives.The real measure of his value, as it is for all thosewho create systems of ideas, is the fertility of whathe created. Our memetic evolution is based onfertile ideas, and based on this measure the seedsthat Ibn Khaldun planted have shown to be of immense value to everyone who came after him.
As I am about to start the exposition of the mainarguments of my lecture, I can only hope tointroduce some elements that are minimallyworthy...Let’s see how tolerance in societies emerges as avalue, and what makes it desirable.People, as well as societies have to definethemselves through a set of norms. These give riseto the individuality of a person or of a society.Apart from features of the biology, or topography,in people and places, many of the definingcharacteristics of a person or a society are derivedfrom the roles and the rules that are developed,learned, transmitted, and maintained throughout itslife.These features provide a utility, through their expression, to their bearer, and their presencecreates a positive feedback, achieving in the systema high level of coherence.
Tolerance as a Guiding Principle