The origin and meaning of the word "tolerant"

Table of contents:

The origin and meaning of the word "tolerant"
The origin and meaning of the word "tolerant"

When faced with unknown words in context, often a person turns to the Internet for help, but does not always get an exhaustive answer to the question. Patience is involved in various fields of activity, is studied in ethics classes in schools and increases the level of respect in the social environment. But what is the origin and meaning of the word "tolerant"? What are the facts and prejudices behind this term?


Tolerance is the ability to look at the opinions, behavior, appearance and way of thinking of others with an open mind. Quality allows others to feel comfortable expressing themselves freely in public without fear of judgment.

Currently, the popular meaning of the word "tolerant" is directly related to sociology, while other concepts remain in the background.

  • Medicine. The ability of the patient to endure pain, being convinced of its imminent passage, to endure the effect of strong drugs on the body.
  • Finance. Acceptance of deviation from the weight of the coin, which does not affect the final value.
  • Psychology. Patience and getting used to external factors, circumstances and problems.
  • Technique. Resigned to a slight weight error during part assembly.

Historical roots

World events of past centuries remind a person of cruel acts of hatred caused by prejudice or the lack of an opportunity to come to a unified agreement: slavery, condemnation of the rights of black people, disrespect for religious groups, persecution of people based on ethnicity during World War II, the Holocaust. Anti-moral dogmas affecting the population did not focus on what the word "tolerant" means, preferring to turn a blind eye to monstrous occurrences.

Slave sales and lack of rights

Socrates became the founder of the definition when, throughout the early Platonic dialogues, he patiently allowed his interlocutors to seek the truth, wherever it led. He encouraged supporters to offer rebuttals so the truth could be revealed.

During the Renaissance and Reformation of the 15th and 16th centuries, the humanists Erasmus (1466-1536), De Las Casas (1484-1566) and Montaigne (1533-1592) defended the autonomy of the human mind against the dogmatism of the Church, calling for the expansion of freedom of choice. Although the religious authorities responded with the formation of the Inquisition and an index of banned books, 17th-century philosophers seriously considered the issue of tolerance.

In the 19th century, the idea was developed in accordance withliberal enlightenment views on the nature of the soul, which held that moral autonomy was essential to human flourishing.

A well-known argument in favor of persuasion of that time was the work of John Stuart Miller "On Freedom" (1859), where it was believed that "tolerant" means accepting a person's choices and decisions without limiting the will, except when actions are dangerous for the welfare of someone else.

Modern use

Tolerance towards religion

Fairness and empathy are closely related to moral development and reasoning. The bloody history of the 20th century made mankind believe that the peaceful resolution of conflicts, the search for compromises are the priority of ending political and religious violence.

In the 21st century, the meaning of the word "tolerant" is divided into two meanings:

  • honest and objective treatment of those whose opinions and practices differ from their own;
  • respect for human dignity.

The concept covers the social aspect, action, individual choice, as well as social, political and legal obligations. Everyone is tolerant in one way or another because they unconsciously give and receive respect for others.

Education and tolerance

To be patient with others is a human quality. Creating a favorable environment for tolerance in modern schools, teachers pay attention to the individuality of children and ethnic diversity, cultivating moral respect forsociety.

Racial tolerance at school

The meaning of the word "tolerant" in the educational system is singled out as a separate concept aimed at the uniqueness of children, the use of special methods to maintain it, which will positively affect the future of the individual and social policy. Education aimed at promoting a harmonious society focuses on the understanding between morality and respect. The grounds for the education of tolerance in children are isolated by the country's focus on strengthening future intergroup relations.

A partially similar goal in the educational system develops a sense of justice, the ability to empathize with the plight of others, to speak up for students who differ in race, gender, ethnicity or nationality.

Wrong context

Mistakes in understanding tolerance

Anti-prejudice and tolerance are not opposites.

The Latin origin of the second, meaning "patience", has become more often perceived in a negative context, as "humility" with what a person strongly dislikes. Unlike prejudice, the meaning of the word "tolerant" is based in the moral realm, offering a positive approach to the study of relationships between groups of people who differ from each other.

Side to the side of the oppressed group of the population, protecting the outsider from the offender, but at the same time not changing his views on established dogmas, manifesting them inunrestrained hatred, aggression, fights discrimination, but is not considered tolerant. The reason is the lack of understanding, empathy for the opinion of another person.

At the same time, respect can be indiscriminate, affecting the rights of a certain group of people or customs with a conservative bias: child marriage, wife stealing or neo-Nazi propaganda.

Empathy and Morality

Understanding and supporting people around the world

Modern psychologists such as Jonathan Haidt and Martin Hoffman believe that empathy is an important motivator of the moral aspects of a person, as it forms altruistic and selfless behavior. This means that the person who is not indifferent to the thoughts, feelings and experiences of others is tolerant. He can put himself in the place of the interlocutor or realize the harm caused by negatively addressing an outsider. Passing the problem through yourself is the essence of tolerance.

Moral values ​​such as justice, empathy, tolerance and respect are individual, bound by the sole purpose of accepting the diversity of each individual.

Thus, tolerance is the ability to patiently and respectfully relate to the views, opinions, interests, belonging to certain groups of a person, even if the moral values ​​of the interlocutor contradict their own.

Popular topic