Tolerance and Respect

Struggle of the Two Natures in Man, 1888 by George Grey Barnard

There is a common statement, "I don't support your idea but I respect that", which is accepted as a virtue in the civilized world. I was just trying to analyse the structure and the nature of this idiom and now, I am just thinking aloud: What makes one respect the ideas that make no sense to him?

I think there must be a common thing between two parties, whose ideas are different from each other, in order to make them respect each other's ideas. This common thing must be the method followed by the different parties for reaching their ideas, such that if both parties can understand and give credit to the mental process, the general context and the nature of the dynamics fostering the thoughts of each other, then they may still argue about the opposing outcomes of the process but they are very likely to respect the opponent's conclusions and interpretations.

This is why it is very common to see mutual respect when you examine the words of religious leaders of different religions. Their common points are the context and the method: All of them are talking about the concepts of religion such as god(s), messenger(s), spirits, afterlife etc. Besides, scientists can have totally opposite interpretations after conducting their experiments on the same area of research but as the criteria that regulate the ways of doing scientific research are accepted by both of the parties having different outcomes, they can easily respect each other. This is a way of reflective proof by saying that "Okay, we have different conclusions but we all accept that there is a system called religion, science etc.".

What if you don't believe the path followed by the party stating an idea that you find very stupid? How can you respect that idea? Imagine a group of people saying that they can move remote objects by using their mental power collectively. How can you respect their indication? I cannot. However, I can invite them to prove their claim by using the methods we all agree on. Otherwise, there is no way for me to respect their argument.

Another aspect of this sort of transaction is the power, I think.The party that has less power relatively has to respect the other's thoughts. At least, the weak party needs to pretend to be respectful. Moreover, the more powerful side usually tolerates the other regarding its red lines. Tolerance is promoted as a virtue too but in my understanding, there is no room for tolerance because being tolerated is accepting that you are the weak one, the little brother who talks nonsense. It is the manfestation of inequality even in the realm of the ideas. A world where tolerance is a brilliant value, you can be sure that minorities will stay silent and behave which is very good for order and governance but is not a cradle for freedom and free-will.

I know that this post needs to be enriched by a long list of references but I am a lazy guy spending his lazy Sunday on his couch :) Just tolerate.