Toleration and Pluralism
After discussion of universal values and the search for unity, we shall return to the obvious reality of mankind: to its difference in values. It is the difference that primarily attracted the attention of ancient historians and scholars, and the discord nascent from this diversity prompted medieval and Renaissance philosophers to search for the unity. The unity had to be discovered, but the difference was and is visible and obvious.
The question that we ask in this chapter is this: How do groups of various, differing value orientation live in a single society? What kind of political and social systems were practiced by the ruling classes or by the people in order to maintain a unity, cohesion within diversity? What modes of coercion or consensus were applied? Furthermore, considering past experience, what kind of system can be outlined or postulated for the future?
We have postulated a universal, superior megaethos, an overall value orientation, a regulatory directive apparatus or system of mankind. But such a system--fundamental as it is--is limited, reduced to the basic core values. It represents a tendency and a dialogue. The difference of other values continues. Moreover, this difference is not contradictory with the idea of the unity of mankind. The dynamic qualities of change and revision of values appear in these continuous dialectics between difference and unity. The changing values of various cultures affect the overall ethos and result in new interpretations. It is the modern doctrine of democracy and toleration, also relativism, that commands respect for this difference and the right of man to cherish his own culture and follow his code of conduct.
The question is asked now whether groups of fundamentally different normative systems, which profess different, even antagonistic ethical codes, can live within the same community or states or whether a state of such strong normative disagreements will disintegrate. We shall narrow our problems to