Paradoxes of Religious Toleration in Early Modern Political Thought

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9780739172179: Paradoxes of Religious Toleration in Early Modern Political Thought

The early modern theories of religious toleration that were so influential on our own ways of thinking about religion and tolerance were ripe with paradox, ambiguity, inconsistency, hidden flaws, and blind spots. The scholars in this volume explore those weak points in the hope that identifying their causes may help us strengthen our own ideas and promote toleration in ways that can avoid those paradoxes.

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About the Author:

John Christian Laursen is professor of political science at the University of California, Riverside.

María José Villaverde is professor of political science at the Complutense University of Madrid, Spain.

Review:

The greatest intellectual virtue of the essays contained in the present volume is their collective commitment to exploring the diverse and sometimes paradoxical ways in which ideas of religious toleration were deployed during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. This approach, announced by the editors in their introduction, permits the inclusion of a variety of fresh voices into the discussion of a fraught yet singularly important issue. An eminent group of international scholars explodes many of the myths and misunderstandings that have shrouded the historical roots of religious toleration, contributing innovative insights of direct relevance to twenty-first century debates about how, when, and to whom tolerance should be extended. (Cary J. Nederman, Texas A&M University)

The twelve essays in this excellent collection are linked through their attention to the paradoxical and ironic dimensions of interpretations of toleration in the works of philosophers and writers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, a period in which toleration remained a nearly insoluble problem, as one contributor put it. The essays bring out a real parallel to our own contemporary wrangling over the extent and meaning of toleration. Which parties or practices deserve space for expression? Are the tolerators the most repressive of all? Writers then as now deployed charges of “fanaticism” and compared the tolerance of Asian vs. western varieties. This collection, edited by Laursen and Villaverde to show how overlapping problems played out, explores these and other conundrums and the brilliant minds who grappled with them. It should be of interest to scholars and students interested in the still essential and vital questions of toleration. (Ingrid Creppell, George Washington University)

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