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Ein Brief über Toleranz (1689)

von John Locke

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Ever since humankind raised its head toward the heavens in search of universal understanding and spiritual fulfillment, wars, pogroms, persecution, prejudice, and contempt have been the means of resolving the many and varied disagreements that have arisen over matters religious. In his Letter Concerning Toleration, Locke offers a compelling plea for freedom of conscience and religious expression. He outlines the limits of social and political incursion into the realm of personal belief or non-belief, discusses the dangers of mixing church and state, and strikes hard at those who would use the power of the state to fulfill religious or political goals. Rational persuasion is always to be encouraged in the hope that wayward souls may find a moral direction in life, but the use of force in such matters is unwarranted and unacceptable. Locke also addresses the question of denominational infighting and relations among the major religions. Talk of heresy and schism should be set aside in favor of understanding and cooperation to achieve mutually desirable social ends.… (mehr)
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“Considerando ser de vosso agrado perguntar minha opinião acerca da tolerância mútua entre cristãos em suas diferentes confissões religiosas, devo responder, com brevidade, que considero a tolerância a principal marca distintiva da verdadeira Igreja. Porque, apesar do que algumas pessoas alardeiam acerca da antiguidade de lugares e nomes ou do esplendor de seu ritual de culto, outras sobre a reforma de sua doutrina, bem como, todas elas, da ortodoxia de sua fé – pois todos são ortodoxos para si mesmos –, essas coisas, e todas as outras da mesma natureza, são mais propriamente marcas da luta de homens empenhando-se em alcançar o poder e o domínio uns sobre os outros do que da Igreja de Cristo.”
  matheus1berto21 | Jul 9, 2021 |
GB-5
  Murtra | Oct 27, 2020 |
John Locke (1632-1704), een van de belangrijkste filosofen uit de zeventiende eeuw, is vermoedelijk het meest bekend geworden door zijn omvangrijke epistemologische 'An Essay concerning Human Understanding'. Maar Locke bestreek alle terreinen van de filosofie en de theologie en tolerantie was een van de morele problemen die hem na aan het hart lagen. Locke zelf verliet Engeland uit afkeer en beduchtheid voor de dwingende vorm van katholicisme die zich in het Engelse koningshuis nestelde en dreigde een staatsgodsdienst te worden. In ballingschap in Nederland reageerde Locke in zijn lange fijnzinnige eerste Brief over tolerantie op de situatie die hij ontvlucht was door een scherp onderscheid te maken tussen de taken en het machtsbereik van de staat en het heil van de ziel van de individuele mens waarop de staat nooit en te nimmer invloed mag hebben en dat hij alleen in schijn kan sturen.

Inigo Bocken vertaalde de brief uit het Latijn, schreef er een historische inleiding bij en voegde er een essay aan toe waarin hij in de door Locke bepleite scheiding van staat en godsdienst in religieuze tolerantie de oorsprong van de liberale staatsopvatting ontdekt. Hij maakt duidelijk dat tolerantie voor Locke en naar haar wezen niet synoniem is met de neutraliteit of de onverschilligheid van de staat, maar ook een afbakening van de grens waarbinnen de religieuze burger zich kan bewegen.
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Deze uit het Latijn vertaalde tekst betreft een brief over tolerantie, die de Engelse filosoof Locke (1632-1704) schreef tijdens zijn onvrijwillige verblijf in Holland vanwege de religeuze intolerantie in zijn eigen land. Hij houdt zijn lezers, in het door godsdiensttwisten verscheurde Engeland, voor dat de kerkelijke macht en de staat gescheiden moeten zijn. Het geloof is iets voor de prive mens, de staat gaat over het publieke gedrag. Wat deze brieven opmerkelijk maakt, is dat Locke niet pleit voor een staat die neutraal staat tegenover godsdienst, zoals latere liberalen. Locke is geen pluralist en hij ontkent daarmee dat een religieuze levenstijl uiteindelijk altijd de basis vormt voor geweld in intolerantie. In het begeleidend essay probeert de vertaler Locke's uitgangspunt verder uit te leggen en te verdedigen, waarbij hij stipuleert dat Locke's brief ook relevant is voor onze moderne tijd. ( )
  aitastaes | Jan 11, 2019 |
Sin, you say?

John Locke says, in A Letter Concerning Toleration:
“Idolatry, say some, is a sin and therefore not to be tolerated. If they said it were therefore to be avoided, the inference were good. But it does not follow that because it is a sin it ought therefore to be punished by the magistrate. For it does not belong unto the magistrate to…[punish] everything…that he takes to be a sin against God…The reason is [not every sin] is prejudicial to other men’s rights…”

Really? That comment provokes questions. Why call an act a sin if it’s not even prejudicial to other’s rights? Is it that such a sin is in some way prejudicial to God’s rights? If so, omnipotence must be an easily distressed condition.

Sin, though, despite its importance in religion, proves not central to Locke in his essay, making it hard to know how we can affirm with confidence and his concurrence that a sin or any other act is, in fact, “prejudicial to other men’s rights” and thus fit matter for the magistrate. Perhaps he discusses this comprehensively elsewhere in his writings.

What to say, then? Just that it’s clear Locke would wish us to treat doubtfully any suggestion that a law be enacted against some offense to a holy teaching. That teaching may not be holy in each religion and therefore not an offense to all. If the offense is also prejudicial to civil rights, as those rights are understood by a society, then it becomes eligible to be subject to civil law. But any law that might then arise does not owe its justification to religious observance or teaching. As Locke avers, “the whole jurisdiction of the magistrate…neither can nor ought in any manner be extended to the salvation of souls.”

One wonders if Locke’s opinion divorcing civil jurisdiction from salvation was on the minds of those who constructed the United States Constitution when they avoided including such words as “God” or “Creator” or “Christian” or “Holy” or “Sin” anywhere in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights.

As for the “tolerance” that is Locke’s subject: If you are an Atheist, don’t think he says you should be tolerated. He writes that you shouldn’t be. Whether there are limits to the intolerance you should be permitted to suffer is left unclear.

But hey, if Atheists can find it in themselves to become Pagans then everything is cool: “neither Pagan, nor Mahometan, nor Jew, ought to be excluded from the civil rights of the commonwealth because of his religion. The Gospel commands no such thing.”

Keep in mind, I urge you, in some places “The Pagans”* are an outlaw motorcycle gang and the affiliated rites and responsibilities may be something you ought not to adopt or even tolerate. But as a Pagan of this kind you’d probably not be much inclined to accept unsolicited advice from me or from John Locke. In that you’d be true to the spirit of not a few religious sects.

This Letter is quite a letter.

* Scarce as outlaw motorcycle gangs were in 17th-century England and Europe, I suppose Locke must mean by “Pagan” an adherent of any religion not very familiar to him. Dang. ( )
  dypaloh | Feb 22, 2018 |
Un testo di grande attualit sulla necessità della separazione tra potere temporale e spirituale,nelle Chiese e tra Stato e Chiese, sull'importanza fondamentale della tolleranza,tra uomini di diverso credo religioso.Leggendo opere di questo tipo,scritte da ormai molto tempo,vengono alla mente due possibilità:1. esistono pochi uomini che riescono ad intuire verità dell'uomo2. esistono molti uomini che non le intendono.Probabilmente sono vere entrambe. ( )
  AlessandraEtFabio | Dec 22, 2017 |
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Ever since humankind raised its head toward the heavens in search of universal understanding and spiritual fulfillment, wars, pogroms, persecution, prejudice, and contempt have been the means of resolving the many and varied disagreements that have arisen over matters religious. In his Letter Concerning Toleration, Locke offers a compelling plea for freedom of conscience and religious expression. He outlines the limits of social and political incursion into the realm of personal belief or non-belief, discusses the dangers of mixing church and state, and strikes hard at those who would use the power of the state to fulfill religious or political goals. Rational persuasion is always to be encouraged in the hope that wayward souls may find a moral direction in life, but the use of force in such matters is unwarranted and unacceptable. Locke also addresses the question of denominational infighting and relations among the major religions. Talk of heresy and schism should be set aside in favor of understanding and cooperation to achieve mutually desirable social ends.

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