It has been exciting to see how much interest our Tolerance volume has provoked since its publication. We initially took up the project in order to show support for our colleagues in France and to help the anthology of searing Enlightenment texts they’d put together on tolerance, equality, and free speech reach an Anglophone audience. We were upset by the Charlie Hebdo assassinations, and because we all wanted to be able to do something, however small, we rushed to translate a text that spoke to the concerns of our present moment. We had no idea that our work would come to impact so many people.
We gave over our regular translation classes to the task. Lots of colleagues and lots of students joined in – there were 102 of us – we were so delighted to be using our translation skills to contribute to international debate! With the amazingly speedy help of OBP, our translation was published on the first anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo tragedy. Since then, Tolerance has reached over 24,000 readers globally, formed the focus of discussion at an academic conference, been looked at as a teaching model at The Prince’s Institute Residential Summer School for MFL teachers, and been reprinted specially as a going-home present for the sixth-former attendees of the International Philosophy Olympiad in Rotterdam this year. These young people come from schools all over the world, and had written essays on the subject of tolerance. It’s a topical theme and no less topical now than when our book was first published.
Enlightenment values of tolerance are under pressure globally. Old democracies and new ones reject it in the name of nationalism and protectionism. Punitive discourse is everywhere visible; violence is present. This is the context in which this anthology remains relevant to us as we reassert the principles we wish our societies to be based on and as we return to the debates from which they originated. Liberty, equality, fraternity!
by Caroline Warman