Up@dawn 2.0

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

As I read about the city of Toldo and how it was a place in which religious tolerance was practiced, I thought that the author phrased its introduction badly. Herman seems to claim that the “legendary El Cid” was the outright cause of religious tolerance in Toledo. However, Toledo had been controlled by leaders of various faiths for hundreds of years. I believe that religious tolerance had been going on for some time out of necessity and El Cid’s reign simply legitimized legally how things already were. Moreover, with all the people of various faiths inside the city already, rules of intolerance or simply accepting intolerance would cause large civil strife inside the city.

I believe that our society can reach (and to an extent has reached) a point of not only religious toleration, but religious acceptance. Much like Toledo, I can drive around Murfreesboro alone and see a Synagogue, a Mosque, as well as various types of Christian churches. People I talk to throughout the day don’t blame other faiths for being the cause of their problems. That being said I did read about the mosque in Murfreesboro burning down and there are a lot of people who blame ISIS or even 9/11 on Islam and all Muslims. However, I think that there will always be extremists in any society and culture; preaching hate.

Our society has a legal obligation to religious tolerance, much like El Cid installed in the city of Toledo. Religious tolerance (which has become acceptance in the younger generations) has even extended to people of non-faith. Atheism has become very popular in today’s world, especially in America and Europe. Whereas in any other time Atheism probably would have been punished greatly. In Toledo the religious practices were all related and united under the same God. In fact many cultures like India cannot even discern the differences between Christians, Jews, or Muslims. I believe that in Toledo any group of non-Abrahamic religious followers or even a group of Atheists would have been religiously persecuted.

I’m not entirely sure why people in America are as tolerant as they are or why they seem to be getting more tolerant as years go on. I like to believe it’s because of education becoming more common for everyone in America, as well globalization causing people to come more in contact with others of varying faiths.


  1. You're on to something, Devon. I've come to realize that any of Herman's assertions are cherry-picked evidence, distortions, or whitewashing. More to come!

  2. I hope you mean "many" and not "any" - and I hope you're wrong, Dean, in the implication that Herman is willfully dishonest (rather than just committed to a point of view and a program of interpretation). But I defer to the historical expertise of the many who know more about Toledo, and indeed about history in general, than I. I remain hopeful that Herman's breezy narrative style will serve our philosophical and pedagogical purposes well, in giving constructive provocation. But if there are better texts to that purpose I'll be happy to embrace them in the future. Richard Tarnas's "The Passion of the Western Mind," maybe. And of course there's always Jennifer Michael Hecht's excellent "Doubt: A History," and Bertrand Russell's redoubtable (but also cherry-picked and opinionated) "History of Western Philosophy."

  3. Devon, I hope you're right that most of our fellow Americans are too imbued with tolerance and pluralism to give serious consideration to the election of an inexperienced, uninformed, racist demagogue. We'll see.

  4. "Willfully dishonest" might be too strong of an indictment, but Herman does seem to cleverly commingle his thoughts with other authors, and, at times, draws inferences from questionable analogies. I'm just trying to pay attention.

    Look at his argument about the financial collapse on page 562.

    First, he invokes Friedrich von Hayek. Hayek is famous for the Business Cycle Theory. He says that markets are more than a means in commerce, they are "fields of information--as with quantum," whereas perception of markets alter them. Then he leaps to the Uncertainty Principle, where it's unclear how wave-particle duality has anything to do with the economy in international markets. Then he seems to bend Karl Popper's quote saying, "as Karl Popper would have put it, economics are as impervious to prediction or guidance." Thus, "inspired by Hayek's original thought...bubbles and crises continue...at least in societies where free markets, along with creativity, are allowed to flourish."

    That's an awful lot of ink spilled to conceal the problem.