Toleration and Enlightenment

English: Ivy growing over the walls of the Uni...

English: Ivy growing over the walls of the University of Cambridge, UK (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What is meant by the term ‘toleration’ as it is used by Outram (p. 39)? To what cultural sphere does the term ‘toleration’ apply?  Religion? Politics? Something besides?

Toleration was the state’s way to “hack at the roots of the church-state relationship” (Outram 39). For example, Joseph II attacked the church’s control over education by trying to set up a system of secular schools and by opening positions for University professors to laymen (Outram 39). Like his brother Peter Leopold who reduced the economic and social functions of the church in Tuscany, Joseph II also saw ecclesiastical practices as a as “a dream on economic productivity” and legislated against them (Outram 39). In terms of cultural spheres, I place this term “toleration” into the cultural sphere of politics. In other words, it may seem like Joseph II and Leopold’s practices were intolerant of religion, but in fact they were more tolerant of varieties of religion. To me, their efforts appear to be intolerant of intolerance. In other words, the church had strong controls over education and their attack on those controls was a way to liberate education from the holds of religion.

Outram, D. The Enlightenment. 2nd ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University. 2005. Print.

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