Wendy Brown, Rainer Forst
The Power of Tolerance
We invoke the ideal of tolerance in response to conflict, but what does it mean to answer conflict with a call for tolerance? Is tolerance a way of resolving conflicts or a means of sustaining them? Does it transform conflicts into productive tensions, or does it perpetuate underlying power relations? To what extent does tolerance hide its involvement with power and act as a form of depoliticization?
Wendy Brown and Rainer Forst debate the uses and misuses of tolerance, an exchange that highlights the fundamental differences in their critical practice despite a number of political similarities. Both scholars address the normative premises, limits, and political implications of various conceptions of tolerance. Brown offers a genealogical critique of contemporary discourses on tolerance in Western liberal societies, focusing on their inherent ties to colonialism and imperialism, and Forst reconstructs an intellectual history of tolerance that attempts to redeem its political virtue in democratic societies. Brown and Forst work from different perspectives and traditions, yet they each remain wary of the subjection and abnegation embodied in toleration discourses, among other issues. The result is a dialogue rich in critical and conceptual reflections on power, justice, discourse, rationality, and identity.
About the Author
Rainer Forst is Professor of Political Theory and Philosophy
and Co-Director of the "Normative Orders" Research Cluster at Goethe
University, Frankfurt am Main. His recent books include The Right to Justification, Toleration in Conflict and Justification and Critique.
Brown is Class of 1936 First Professor of Political Science at the
University of California, Berkeley, where she is also affiliated with
the graduate program in Critical Theory. Her recent books include Regulating Aversion: Tolerance in the Age of Empire and Identity, Walled States, Waning Sovereignty and Is Critique Secular? co-authored with T. Asad, J. Butler and S. Mahmood.
Christoph F. E. Holzhey is the founding director of the ICI Berlin Institute for Cultural Inquiry and led the core project Tension/Spannung with its recent foci on Multistable Figures and Complementarity. He has edited several volumes in the series Cultural Inquiry with Turia + Kant in Vienna: Tension/Spannung, The Scandal of Self-Contradiction: Pasolini's Multistable Subjectivities, Traditions, Geographies (with L. Di Blasi and M. Gragnolati), Situiertes Wissen und regionale Epistemologie: Zur Aktualität Georges Canguilhems und Donna J. Haraways (with A. Deuber-Mankowsky), and Multistable Figures: On the Critical Potentials of Ir/Reversible Aspect-seeing.
Luca Di Blasi is University Lecturer in Philosophy at the Universität Bern. Until the end of 2013, he was Academic Assistant to the Director at the ICI Berlin Institute for Cultural Inquiry. He has published widely on the topic of philosophy of religion, including Der Geist in der Revolte: Der Gnostizismus und seine Wiederkehr in der Postmoderne.