There are 5 thoughts on “Of Tolerance and Intolerance”.

  1. I don’t think that stuffing Carson’s argument about the “intolerance of the new tolerance,” or Professor Gee’s comments about his experience at Yale, into the schema fashioned by educational psychologist William G. Perry helps us to understand or confront Carson’s argument. Why? If I am not mistaken, what Perry was attempting to do was to make sense out of the fluctuating opinions of Harvard students he surveyed. Not entirely unlike students elsewhere they were, among other things, learning to game classes and manage grades, as well as to some degree cope with the ambiguities of intellectual life.

    Perry’s schema entails a proper development from one stage to another. The idea of an proper unfolding or progress from one stage to another reminds me of the currently fashionable loose talk about stages of faith, where no longer believing much of anything is the highest stage. Or to what Carson sees as the “intolerance of the new tolerance.” With categories such as multiplicity, commitment and dualism, Perry seems to me to set out a norm for student maturation, which is either derived from or illustrated by surveys of student opinions at Harvard. In addition, applying Perry schema to Carson argument about an incoherent but popular contemporary ideology involves a kind of category mistake. The reason is that the two authors are talking about quite different things. However, I could have misunderstood Mike Johnson’s point.

  2. How much of tolerance actually may depend on one’s own intellectual and ethical development using say the Perry Scheme.

    The “old tolerance” in the article seems to reflect Perry position 3 or 4 in multiplicity. One in position 3 or 4 is still trying to find the truth, but recognizes that the authorities may not know the truth. The difference is in degree (those in 3 think most things are known by authorities, only a few are not; while position 4 is that most are not known, but we may be able to know the truth). Tolerance is thus allowing others to speak as one searches for the truth. And one in position 3 or 4 looks at those in position 2 and sees them as intolerant.

    The “new tolerance” seems to reflect Perry position 5, where everything is relative. For somebody at this position, everybody still at position 2, 3, or 4 are simply intolerant because they think there is an absolute truth out there to find one way or another.

    As one progresses to positions 6, 7, 8, and eventually to 9, I see them progressively becoming more tolerant of others. They increasing live by making commitments and accepting responsibility for them. It is a lot easier in position 9 where one has made a lot of provisional commitments that could change with new data, but one lives as if they are true, to allow people in positions 2 through 8 to have their opinions and respect them.

    How one sees intolerance perhaps only measures how progressed they are themselves intellectually and ethically.

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