AbstractsPhilosophy & Theology

Rethinking tolerance:a hermeneutic inquiry of tolerance as a way of relating to diversity in 21st century Finland

by M (Moona) Haverinen

Institution: University of Oulu
Year: 2016
Keywords: Education
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2065665
Full text PDF: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:oulu-201606042292


Tolerance is one of the most complex concepts in modern political thought. This master’s thesis aims to create an understanding of the place of tolerance in a modern society, raising two main questions: What is tolerance? and What is the relevance of tolerance as a way of relating to diversity in a modern complex society, namely, Finland? This choice of topic is based on my personal interest in the recent developments in Finland, where a large amount of asylum seekers has resulted in a heated public discourse about tolerance. The aim is to find out if mere tolerance still holds a place in the Finnish society or if we should aim for something more such as accepting, even affirming diversity. This research is a qualitative theoretical inquiry in which the hermeneutic research methodology is utilized. Tolerance is analysed hermeneutically, basing on various texts that examine the concept from different points of view, and especially on a philosophical level of understanding. The research follows the post-positivist tradition, according to which one cannot expect to discover absolute truths or fully objective information when performing qualitative research. Also, the methodological nature of hermeneutics is subjective and the results largely depend on the researcher’s personal position. The interpretative nature of the inquiry is made visible through the structure of the thesis. The data of this research is divided into two groups: the ‘classics’ and the ‘21st century’ texts. The basis of the interpretation of the texts is the gadamerian hermeneutic circle and a four-phased hermeneutic inquiry. The first phase of inquiry consists of a description of the researcher’s pre-understanding of the topic, while also including a brief look into the special characteristics of tolerance in the Finnish context, as well as the concepts of diversity, difference, and social identity. The second phase is called the hermeneutic dialogue and it aims to shed light on the concept of tolerance through interpretation of chosen texts. This is followed by the fusion of horizons, in which the focus is on creating a new understanding of the topic by combining the researcher’s pre-understanding and the interpretation of the texts. The aim is to distinguish the ideas that are essential for understanding tolerance and for answering the research questions. Finally, in the fourth phase of the research, the understanding created by the inquiry is discussed more profoundly. The results of the research are two-fold. On the other hand, it is observed that due to its negative and patronizing starting point, tolerance in the traditional sense has outreached its usefulness and there is a need to construct a ‘new tolerance’. Yet, it is also pointed out that rejecting tolerance in 21st century Finland is essentially unreasonable. Human fallibility and diversity of values and ways of life lead to a situation where agreeing to disagree can be the most sensible thing to do. The place of tolerance is in between intolerant opposition and positive recognition.…