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Boundaries of toleration by Alfred Stepan, Charles Taylor

By Alfred Stepan, Charles Taylor

Edited by means of Alfred Stepan and Charles Taylor

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VISWANATHAN: No, I’m not giving it away. I think history has already given away the end of the novel, but “Once he has gone, all he thought, all he had worked to make his philosophy and way of being, all that would evaporate like water. The future would not be what he hoped for but a dry, hostile, antagonistic place, where people would survive as best as they could and hate their neighbors and smash their places of worship and kill one another once again in the renewed heat of the great quarrel he had sought to end forever, the quarrel over God.

It seems to me that there is no argument you can make against the person who disagrees with you that female circumcision is wrong. If they ask why it is wrong, then you’re eventually going to end up in a kind of regress circularity. It seems to me that liberalism just pretends to be tolerant when actually it is intolerant. I’m not saying there is any alternative, but you’re actually invoking intolerance. We should be intolerant towards female circumcision or whatever else. We should be intolerant towards the murder of authors.

Much, much harder to work out what you do like, and often you can be wrong about the things you think you do like. I mean let’s hope we are not, this week, because this week I do feel optimistic. It’s an odd feeling, one that I am not familiar with. Actually, the worst thing I can say is that the last time I felt a little bit like this was after the election of Tony Blair, and look what happened. So I am just hoping this isn’t a rerun of that story. I don’t think it is. VISWANATHAN: Well, maybe I can take you back to your more bleak outlook on life.

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