The original seven deadly vices had two subdivisions: spiritual (pride, envy, wrath) and corporal (sloth, greed, gluttony and lust). After listing the new seven deadly vices, I began to reconsider them as a whole and realized that they should reflect some fundamental opposites or antitheses. I decided on two master vices: Intolerance and Hypocrisy. In a sense, intolerance is opposed to hypocrisy because the intolerant rejects external difference, while the hypocrite denies or conceals one’s own difference.
Intolerance is almost always a byproduct of ignorance, due to three reasons: intolerance deprives people from a sense of responsibility, reduce their self-control, and limit their access to materials that lead to enlightening tolerance.
Tolerance consists of three aspects: tolerance of persons, tolerance of behavior and tolerance of ideas. Ignorance confuses these aspects, and mistakes a rejection of an idea or behavior is equivalent to the rejection of the person who holds that idea or practices that behavior. Therefore, disagreement with ideas do not require intolerance of the person.
Intolerance generally functions as a type of shallow and limited thinking, which is the essence of mediocrity. The mediocre has no tolerance for anything unorthodox, for they are already conformable with the normal (traditions, customs, behavior). Since the mediocre are generally repulsed by the heterodox they judge all challenges to “normal” as immoral.
A society, heavy with one-dimensional tone of seriousness that consists of severe asceticism, somber moods like sorrow, remorse, atonement, etc., is an intolerant one that has no room for humor, wit or laughter. Dogmatic, fundamentalist attitudes are inseparable from narrow-minded seriousness and is incapable of understanding cultural differences.
Tolerance is not a good in itself, but a lesser evil than intolerance, because the consequences of intolerance are worse than the whatever is being tolerated. Intolerance has a surprising inertia, a mental sloth or complacency that reinforces the self-assurance of one’s convictions. Speaking as an epistemologist, tolerance is a modest position regarding knowledge, because one’s own confidence in one’s own position does not grant the epistemological certainty to justify the persecution of another person who holds a different position.
In the next blog, I will discuss hypocrisy.