Alfred Stepan and Charles Taylor have played a leading role in getting us to rethink the meaning of political secularism, above all to undermine the simplistic notions that secularism means an absolute separation of 'church and state,' that this is essential to democracy, and that there is only one institutional template for achieving a secular polity. In this collection of essays, they have assembled a set of contributors who look at the varied ways in which quite different societies, past and present, Western and non-Western, have tried to achieve multireligious coexistence and the role of the state in that process. This is just the kind of historical and theoretical inquiry we need as we work through the challenge of crafting a suitably multiculturalized set of secularisms.
Boundaries of Tolerationby Alfred Stepan
How can people of diverse religious, historical, ethnic, and linguistic allegiances and identities live together without committing violence, inflicting suffering, or oppressing each other? Western civilization has long understood this dilemma as a question of toleration, yet the logic of toleration and the logic of multicultural rights entrenchment are two very… See more details below
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How can people of diverse religious, historical, ethnic, and linguistic allegiances and identities live together without committing violence, inflicting suffering, or oppressing each other? Western civilization has long understood this dilemma as a question of toleration, yet the logic of toleration and the logic of multicultural rights entrenchment are two very different things.
In this volume, contributors suggest we also think beyond toleration to mutual respect, practiced before the creation of modern multiculturalism in the West. Salman Rushdie reflects on the once mutually tolerant Sufi-Hindu culture of Kashmir. Ira Katznelson follows with an intellectual history of toleration as a layered institution in the West and councils against assuming we have transcended the need for such tolerance. Charles Taylor advances a new approach to secularism in our multicultural world, and Akeel Bilgrami responds by urging caution against making it difficult to condemn or make illegal dangerous forms of intolerance. The political theorist Nadia Urbanati explores why the West did not pursue Cicero’s humanist ideal of concord as a response to religious discord. The volume concludes with a refutation of the claim that toleration was invented in the West and is alien to non-Western cultures.
The contributors to this volume open up fertile new ground exploring problems, hypotheses, and recommendations in provocative and original ways. Readers will find the fresh thinking exhibited in these pages eye-opening and mind-expanding.
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