Long seen as an essential virtue for liberal democracies, tolerance has begun to fall out of favor in our current deeply polarized political climate. Doesn’t tolerating what we believe to be unjust allow injustice to continue and even make us complicit in the resulting harm? Paying special attention to this objection, I revisit the early history of toleration. The idea of toleration and the virtue of tolerance arose first, not from of the modern liberal enlightenment, but out of the theological reflections of Christians within the first five centuries CE: Tertullian, Cyprian, Lactantius, and Augustine. These thinkers made valuable contributions that deserve to be considered in our contemporary climate.
Lunch will be provided. Spaces are limited; those wishing to attend should RSVP here.
Jed Atkins is E. Blake Byrne Associate Professor of Classics at Duke University.