Monday, March 13, 2017

Yet more truths from a bygone era

[John] Milton and [John Stuart] Mill both illustrate the humanist assumption that greater freedom of debate promotes discovery of truth. But the humanist defense of toleration consisted of more than just this assumption. The humanists were unwilling to protect that they knew—or at least believed—was false. Thus they permitted debate on adiaphora [nonessentials], but not on the fundamentals of faith. In addition, the humanists were concerned that discussion take place in a rhetorically appropriate environment. Irrational debates, they maintained, were no more likely to foster truth than censorship. The humanists’ exclusion of “false” beliefs from protection is exemplified by Milton, the oft-presumed herald of contemporary freedom of speech and press, who would have banned Catholicism because it conflicted with “known” truths.—Humanism and the Rhetoric of Toleration, pages 246–47

<idle musing>
Amazing how knowing the backstory on something changes the light in which you see it, isn't it? If your audience doesn't know the history of an idea, you are free to twist it into whatever form you want. Therefore educating people is scary for those who wish to rework ideas.

Of course, education where people are required to read the sources, as opposed to the interpretation of them by those with an agenda (right or left), is truly scary. The value of a Liberal Arts degree!
</idle musing>

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