Worlds of Difference

European Discourses of Toleration, c. 1100c. 1550

By (author) Cary J. Nederman

Paperback - £28.95

Publication date:

15 September 2000

Length of book:

168 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271020174

Toleration has become a keystone of liberal political philosophy, but with liberalism under attack today as inadequate for dealing with all the problems of a pluralistic world, other resources are needed. Cary Nederman directs our attention to the creative thinking about toleration that preceded the rise of liberalism and canvasses the diverse ideas proposed then within Christianity as a response to religious, cultural, national, and ethnic differences.

“This is a superb book that finds toleration where most deny that it exists—in the Middle Ages. Nederman not only finds toleration in this ‘monolithically intolerant’ period, but demonstrates the various sources of medieval theories of toleration: Abelard’s and Llull’s faith in interreligious dialogue, John of Salisbury’s skepticism, William of Rubruck’s view of a multi-religious empire, Marsiglio of Padua’s conception of the secular state, Nicholas of Cusa’s acceptance of ritual heterogeneity based on national difference, and Barolome de la Casas’s Ciceronian rationalism. By focusing on medieval theories of toleration, Worlds of Difference complements other works that begin their study of toleration from the Renaissance or beyond. Nederman’s book will be required reading for all who want a complete view of the history of toleration. It is bound to be the authoritative work on medieval ideas of toleration for a long time to come.”

—Gary Remer, Tulane University