Notes & Thoughts

What is tolerance for?

Tolerance is conditionally putting up with things you don’t like.

Botanists ask how much loss of moisture a plant can tolerate and still survive. In the 18th century, Hungary disfavored Jews, but would tolerate them if they paid a “toleration” tax. In these examples, perceived threats are deemed bearable for certain purposes within certain limits.

Thus, tolerance is contingent, practiced not for its own sake but because it is a means of obtaining other things we want. The core question therefore becomes, tolerance for what?

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