Key Note Address Paideia Decennial Conference Uppsala August 14, 2011 Moshe Halbertal On Tolerance It is a great honour to be here

. I have been involved with Paideia for ten years already. This is an opportunity to express my gratitude to Barbara Spectre, the board members and the students. When Barbara spoke about Paideia 10 years ago, I knew that she has the energy and capacity, but I never dreamt of this kind of achievement. We are all struggling with the following question: what does it mean to live with “the other”? What does it mean to live among difference? This has been a constant challenge for our civilization. This is a deep issue for Europe and it is a deep issue for my country - Israel. I live in Jerusalem. Jerusalem is an immense place of difference. A friend of mine once described Jerusalem as the most international city in the world and the least cosmopolitan. Jerusalem has every sort of religion. And there is the tragedy, the tragedy and the depth of what we call the overlapping map of the sacred. In a very small area, different traditions overlap in the map of the sacred. They will have to learn how to live together. What does it mean to live together in difference? From the history of Western thought, I will try to carve out different perceptions of this challenge and the meaning of tolerance. I am also interested in what role, both destructive and constructive, religious traditions play in that challenge. Whoever thinks about this issue cannot avoid tackling the role of religion. It is emerging as an immense force in our civilization. I will present four conceptions of four visions of tolerance as developed by different thinkers. The first one is what I would call the Tolerant Society. The Tolerant Society as it was understood by John Locke. Then I will deal with the Open Society as understood by John Stuart Mill. Then I will address the Pluralistic Society developed by thinkers such as Isaiah Berlin and others. Last, I will deal with the Multicultural Society. I want to show that each one of these societies is quite different, and we want to ask ourselves what does it mean to live with the other? What does it mean living among difference? With each of these trends I will also ask: what is the possible role of religion within such thinking. Let me start with the Tolerant Society. What does it mean the Tolerant Society? First: to say that someone is tolerant and that he is virtuous in being tolerant means that actually he thinks that the other is wrong. There is no virtue in being tolerant when you think the other is right. Tolerant means that you suffer from the wrongness of the other. You bear it without actually imposing upon him your will. If we look at John Locke whose great A Letter Concerning Toleration had an immense importance in the history of political thinking on toleration, he is the exemplar of what I would call the Tolerant Society. Locke says the following in an argument addressed to the church mainly: He says, I don’t question that fact that you are right, that you have got the truth. But if you claim that you coerce the other to your claim in order to save his or her soul then this is a self defeating manoeuvre. Why? Because you cannot coerce someone to believe in something. You cannot point a gun to someone’s head and say: believe in the resurrection of Christ. Believe in God giving the Torah on Mt Sinai. You can coerce him to go to the church and participate in a certain ritual. But you cannot coerce anyone to believe in something. And since a religious action can be meaningful only if it is done with inner consent and belief, coercion does not make any sense. This is a very

powerful argument. Locke says: if your aim is to save the other, the only way to save the other is to dialogue with him and maybe to change his views. But coercion will not save the other. If you are looking for the salvation of his soul, he has to do it out of an inner agreement and inner agreement cannot be achieved through coercion. What is interesting about this argument is the following: Locke bases toleration without undermining the concept of truth. This is why religious traditions can adopt to a certain degree the Lockian tradition, because they do not have to question the foundation of revelation and the truthfulness of their mission and message. Locke’s idea is very powerful. It unravels the hypocrisy of coercion in the name of paternalistic saving of the other. But it is rather limited because the Tolerant Society in Locke’s point if view will never do anything to foster and encourage difference. It would not coerce. Toleration, basically, is giving the other the right to be mistaken. That does not mean opening schools to perpetuate that mistake through government subsidies. It is a very limited conception but I think that the depth and the insight of it is the following: that freedom and liberty is a condition of genuine religious behaviour. Tere is no genuine religious act without the actual freedom of choosing. This is a very powerful idea and I wish some of our priests, khaddis and rabbis will internalize this insight in a deep way. Let us shift to another conception which I would call the Open Society. The thinker who I believe expresses this in the most powerful way is John Stuart Mill. If you read his great book On Liberty, you will find that the foundation of toleration for him is questioning the assumption that a community or individual actually has got the truth. How do you know? John Stuart Mill defends the Open Society but undermines the certainty of truth. This is very tough for religious authorities to accept. They can accept a Tolerant Society but the Open Society is more challenging. The idea of the Open Society is the following: none of us has the truth in his pocket. We don’t know. Our brain weighs a kilo more or less and the only way to get to the truth is to actually allow criticism, conversation and difference. Then we can slowly advance toward something which is approximately truer than where we were before. The model for the Open Society is the Scientific Society where you allow for different points of views. You allow criticism. Without criticism, without genuine humility there is no progress and society has to allow that sort of experiment in different forms of life criticizing one another in order to approach and approximate the truth. I just want to say one thing: when we all discuss the issue of toleration we have to ask ourselves what is the limit of toleration? The limits of toleration for Mill, which I think are very deep, and we have to remember that the other is tolerated and accepted as long as he is giving the same right to others and other communities next to him to pursue their own way of life. Mill will say the limit of toleration is what he will call the harm-principle. The Open Society is very different from the Tolerant Society since the Open Society is based on questioning the very idea of anyone having the truth. It expresses a deep belief in our culture where the only way of getting closer and approximating truth is through open free discussion. By the way, this is not only true about societies this is also true about schools: there are tolerant schools and there are open schools. I will show you that there are also pluralistic schools and at the end we will get to the multicultural. The Pluralistic Society is also very different from the Open and the Tolerant societies. What is a Pluralistic Society? What does it mean to be a pluralistic person? There is a very deep and important difference between being pluralistic and being tolerant because the one who is

pluralistic does not suffer the mistake of the other. Actually he grants respect and value to another form of life. Pluralism is based on two assumptions, and here I am basically articulating Isaiah Berlins understanding of pluralism. Pluralism is based on the following insight: we encounter a very different form of life than ours. Let us assume that we encounter a Buddhist monk. A talented entrepreneur from Tel Aviv is visiting an ashram where he sees a Buddhist monk and he says: I am not THAT person. I don’t share his life. I don’t tolerate it, assume that it is wrong. I respect it because there is something of value in that form of life and there is a plurality of values. By plurality of values we mean that we do not have a standard to create a hierarchy to these forms of life. Many times when we make choices in life we have a standard. What is the standard when we buy a car? One good measure is the price. We start with the price. Then we have other standards of reliability and safety etc. There is a standard by which we can grade the different options and say that this is better than the other. But when we encounter a radically different form of life there is no way of transcending those forms of life and beginning to grade them because and this is something very deep: Isaiah Berlin calls it their incommensurability – by that we mean the following: each of them, besides embodying a different form of life they also embody a different standard. When a monk measures success and worthiness in life it is very different from when an entrepreneur or a socialist pioneer in a kibbutz or a yeshiva bocher in a yeshiva measure success and worthiness. They encompass a different standard to measure and there is a no way of measuring and hierarchizing between them. There is another very important aspect t of the Pluralist Society. No life can encompass all goods in one life. Not only are we in a pluralistic condition we are also in a finite. So the kind of Marxist or Hegalian fantasy that there will be a life that will synthesize and maximize both freedom and equality or spirituality and materialism in one form of life, this is a fantasy which the pluralist would not accept because the condition of pluralism is plurality and finitude. Now I will explain why a Pluralistic Society is different than the Open Society and the Tolerant Society. It is different from the Tolerant Society because it does not assume that the other is wrong and I have to tolerate it. It actually grants respect to the other. This is not my life but I can see the power and value of that life. The Pluralistic Society is also different from the Open Society because the Open Society like in science assumes that there is a truth out there and we are going to approach it slowly while pluralists basically questions the very idea of achieving a unified scale of truth in relationship to forms of life. I want to explain one thing that always gets confused. Pluralism does not mean relativism. Relativism says that there is no value. That nothing is of value, that it is anyhow a power game. I once had a student who for a year nudged me in class that there is no ethics and no value; that it is all power games. You always have one ambassador of relativism in the class. The student handed in a paper. I marked it, said this is excellent, good point, brilliant etc. The mark I gave him was fail. After getting the paper back, the student came up to me and said: ”You say this is excellent and brilliant. Why am I failing? It’s not fair.” “Fair?” I said, “For a whole year you were nudging me that there is no such thing.” My point is that pluralism is not relativism. Pluralism is an affirmation of a plurality of values. It is not the denial of the very possibility of values and because of that a Pluralistic Society would not tolerate a stance which is anti-pluralistic because it is firm in its pluralism.

A Pluralist Society will tolerate those cultures that are willing to give the same space to others the way they get. But note how different a Pluralistic Society is from the Tolerant Society and the Open Society. Now we come to religion. There is a resurgence of religious sensibility and whoever brackets religion from these questions will not really penetrate the problem. You ask yourself: can the religious establishment be pluralistic? It can be tolerant? Toleration does not demand of them to give up truth, or give up exclusivity of truth. And here I come to a very painful complex point of the role of monotheism. What is monotheism? What is mono? The one truth? There are some that say that paganism is better because you have many gods and that the difference between a monotheistic god and a pagan god is that the pagan god is at least tolerant maybe even pluralistic. The pagan god does not mind other gods being worshipped beside him. But in monotheism you have the jealous god. There is a truth to that claim. It is insightful but monotheism has two sides to it. One side is to not worship any other god. ___-_______ ____ ________ ________, ___-______. “You shall have no other gods besides Me”. This is a firm jealous, ungenerous form of monotheism. But there is another prohibition which is very deep in the monotheistic idea which is you should not make any visual embodied representations of god. God is not only unique. He is transcendent. And what do we mean with transcendent? The genuine sense of transcendence is that nobody can fully capture God in a system. There is a genuine sense of humility. By the way, this is again and again a problem in Jerusalem, my own city. If you look at the relationship between religion and politics you see what happens when a political conflict turns into a religious war. It becomes absolutized. You say: this is sacred for me. The sacred is something I cannot compromise. The function of religion in our day and age, unfortunately, serves as a way of absolutizing relative claims. It is the ultimate card. But when we are worshipping the same God – the deepest function of that is to relativize absolute claims rather than to absolutize relative claims. This is what is the most profound about the transcendent God. So there is a strength – there is a deep strength in our religious tradition that might be open to the pluralistic idea which is: since God is transcendent there is no one form of life which can capture that transcendence. I once met a wonderful Swedish theologian, Krister Stendahl. Krister used to say that in the eyes of God we are all minorities. In it there is a deep sense of feeling which might open up to pluralistic sensitivities. So we talked about the Tolerant, the Open and the Pluralistic society. I will finish with the Multicultural Society. What is the Multicultural Society? What is the difference between pluralism and multiculturalism? The argument against this form of pluralism is ???atomistic??? Let us assume that I am an entrepreneur or a socialist pioneer. I meet a monk, someone who resigns from the world. I affirm the value of the others life because I am not threatened by and my value is not threatened by affirming the value of the other life form. I do not need exclusivity in order to feel good about myself. In the Multicultural Society there are different cultures standing side by side, affirming the value of the other. Unlike the tolerant society, because they affirm the value of the other life form, they are not just going to tolerate it. They are going to support it and allow it to flourish and celebrate it.

I know that some European leaders declared the failure of multiculturalism. But I am not sure they got what multiculturalism is. And in which way it is different from the Pluralist Society? In the Multicultural Society, it is not just that I affirm the value of the others form of life. The existence of the other impacts my own form of life. If the existence of the other impacts my own form of life, I have to both explain myself and understand myself in the light of the other. I integrate, interpret, reject - there is an ongoing deep conversation between myself and the other. Let us assume that I am a secular Jew in Jerusalem. If I am a multiculturalist, I would say that my life will be impoverished without the traditional extremely orthodox observant Jews. There is something about their presence which obligates me and hopefully the other way around. Multiculturalism does not mean that we have different cultures sticking to their own form of life without dialoguing with the other. A genuine sense of the multicultural society is that before the presence of the other you should not only be tolerant, you should not only be open or respectful to the other. In the Multicultural Society, the presence of the other is supposed to enrich your own life by just being another. So what did I do in this lecture? This is a tribute to the spirit of Paideia. Paideia is more than being tolerant. It is more than being open. In some ways it is even more than being pluralistic. Paideia is a genuine Multicultural experience. Where students and people are taught that they do not only have to respect the other. They can learn, embrace and dialogue with the other. In the spirit of Paideia I hope the institute will be a model for all of us when we think about different models of living with the other. What do we mean by living with the other? In this lecture I tried to at least open the ground of what I call four conceptions of living with the other as they come in our tradition. Thank you, good luck and continue to do the great work.

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