Lars Gustafsson on the Bruckner vs. Buruma debate

This is a short article pleading for us to respect and honor reason over and against irrationality:

  There is a logic of tolerance, which remains to be formalized by some future philosopher. Let me, as a starter, suggest two fairly obvious axioms:

– Tolerance of intolerance yields intolerance.
– Intolerance of intolerance yields tolerance.

In other words, in questions of reason and freedom, societies, like individuals, have to make a choice. You cannot have everything at the same time. This holds for original dwellers as for newcomers alike.

Gustafsson is right that our socieities are founded upon reason and cannot forsake it, lest they crumble to pieces. What his very short essay does not explicitly point out is that this reason is closely linked to individualism, which must (always?) trump multiculturalism. Irrationality is indeed a problem, but the source of our conflicts seems to lie closer to western individualism – and the associated lack of identity people feel in its wake. Most of the cultural rules under discussion are not per se irrational, just blatantly counter to our sense of justice and individual freedom. The problem lies in figuring out how to let people be themselves as much as possible, while maintaining our so-called core western values. And here i would agree that we should give in as little as possible – lest we loose our own identity.

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One Comment to “Lars Gustafsson on the Bruckner vs. Buruma debate”

  1. i like the article tremendously as well as your comments.

    as far as “western individualism” in the US is concerned, i believe some clarification is in order. individualism in the US tends to be related to certain aspects of life/culture such as independence of movement but individualism is not quite a apparent when it comes to thought. this is where the media manipulation and plain old lies become so dangerous even in a western individualistic society. i realise this is not exactly the emphasis of the article, but it’s obviously on my mind!

    the problem with “letting people be themselves as much as possible” is that much thinking in the current state of the US (just to not speak too broadly) is based on many lies and manipulations so that being rational based on untrue facts is worthless. also as mentioned in the article, for questions of religion, politics and the like a basis that is “true” is impossible to find…

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