Tracing the path of tolerance. History and critique of a political concept from the early modern period to the contemporary debate

May 26, 2015 - May 27, 2015
Università degli Studi di Padova


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  • Galileian School of Higher Education, Padova


Maria Laura Lanzillo
University of Bologna (Italy)
Fabrizio Lomonaco
Università degli Studi "Federico II" di Napoli
Nonna Mayer
Sciences Po
Annalisa Oboe
Università degli Studi di Padova
José Luis Villacañas Berlanga
Universidad Complutense de Madrid


Paolo Bettiolo
Università degli Studi di Padova
Adone Brandalise
Università degli Studi di Padova
Vincenzo Pace
Università degli Studi di Padova
Paolo Scotton
Enrico Zucchi
Università degli Studi di Padova

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During the history of political thought the concept of tolerance represented not merely an abstract idea, but rather a concrete political public space that rendered possible the recognition of those civil and political rights which contributed to the development of democratic societies.

The concept has undergone radical changes during the centuries: from constituting a claim in favour of religious freedom within reformed communities in early modern Europe, to a representation of an institutional principle deemed to regulate social life. A concept largely accepted but, at the same time, often criticised being considered a surreptitious instrument of hegemonic political power.

After 250 years from the entry Tolérance in Diderot’s and d’Alembert’s Encyclopédie and 50 years after the publication of the famous Marcuse’s essay Repressive Tolerance, wherein the limits of a passive tolerance were forcefully denounced, this conference aims at highlighting the different meanings the concept acquired in different contexts and different times. In particular, the analysis of the concept will be conducted from an interdisciplinary perspective which will merge philosophy, history of political and legal thought, history of literature and political science, by tracing the history of this idea and practice from the early modern period up to the modern debate, focusing on questions such as pluralism and multiculturalism.

Within this framework, papers analysing the evolution of the idea of tolerance from an historical or more theoretical perspective, as well as papers focusing on the importance of the concept incurrent political debates will be welcomed.

DEADLINE: March, 1, 2015

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