A Christian Social Ethical Definition of Tolerance as a conceptual basis for the project “Tolerance at the Borders of Europe – the Ukrainian Dimension”
Draft from 18.03.2019
Markus Vogt, Rolf Husmann,
with contributions by Michael Fetko and Felix Geyer, Ivo Frankenreiter, Ihor Vegesh, Marianna Kolodiy and Alexander Bokotai
- Aim of the text
This text was developed during a project conducted at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Germany (LMU) and the National University of Uzhorod in Transcarpathia, Ukraine (UzhNU). This project is sponsored by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs and part of a long term academic cooperation. The text is meant to be a systematic development of a concept of tolerance that can be applied practically in education and civil projects in Ukraine, especially in Transcarpathia in order to promote tolerance in a time of growing fear, discrimination and aggression. Therefore it wants to elaborate, what tolerance can mean and how it could be communicated being challenged by the concrete situation in Ukraine and growing doubts in society.
Although tolerance is seen as a key value in the Western hemisphere, many doubts arise, sometimes fueled by propaganda, whether tolerance would rather be a merely Western idea that enforces Western imperialism. On the other hand a lot of criticism may occur on a religious field as tolerance could easily be misunderstood as indifference or relativism. Thirdly, people might wonder if a religious approach is suitable when developing a universal tolerance model. Our aim is to show that those arguments cannot convince.
- There are many different reasons that make tolerance a universal and indispensable concept: political-pragmaticreasons (securing peace), epistemological reasons (there is no last intersubjective knowledge of the truth) or ethicalreasons (protection of freedom and human rights). Having said that tolerance is necessary in a democratic state: As democracy gets its dynamic from the controversy of opinions, dissenting opinions neither can be excluded without examination nor can be accepted without expressing dissent. In so far both sides of tolerance (passive in the sense of non-exclusion, (pro-)active in the sense of dealing with different opinions) are a condition of democratic behavior. Democracy needs a culture of dialogue that prevents violent conflicts (not conflicts at all) and tensions from evolving hostility but that allows to transform these into understanding, cooperation and development. Tolerance can be a framework of this transformation and the virtue of democracy.