TED, Ted Salon, Thomas Hobbes discussed on TED Talks Daily
This Ted talk features political theorist and author. Theresa Beijing recorded live at Ted salon bright line initiative. Twenty eighteen. I'm Chris Anderson. The guy who gets to run Ted. We've just launched a new podcast called the Ted interview where I get to sit down with icon conic, Ted speakers to dive deeper into their ideas in on next episode a conversation with author Steven pinker about whether shock horror the world might actually be getting better. It's not seeing the glass half full or being optimistic to say that global poverty has declined from ninety percent ten percent. That's a fact, and it's the fact that people aren't aware of is join me. So the Ted interview wherever you listen. Let's get this out of the way I'm here because I wrote a book about civility, and because that book came out right around the two thousand sixteen American presidential election. I started getting lots of invitations to come and talk about civility. And why we need more of it in American politics. So great the only problem was that I'd written that book about civility because I was convinced that civility is. Bullshit. Now that may sound like a highly uncivil thing to say and lucky for you. And for my publisher. I did eventually come to change my mind in the course of writing that book and studying the long history of civility and religious tolerance in the seventeenth century. I came to discover that there is a virtue of civility and far from being bullshit. It's actually absolutely essential. Especially for tolerance societies so societies. Like this one that promised not only to protect diversity. But also the heated in sometimes even hateful disagreements that that diversity inspires. You see the thing about disagreement is that there is a reason that disagreeable is a synonym for unpleasant as the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes pointed out all the way back in sixteen forty two. That's because the mere act of disagreement is offensive and hops is still right. It works like this. So if you and I disagree, and I'm right because I always am how am I to make sense of the fact that you are so very very wrong. It couldn't possibly be that. You've just come to a different conclusion in good faith. No, you must be up to something. You must be stupid bigoted interested. Maybe you're insane and up the same goes the other way. Right. So the mere fact of your disagreeing with me is implicitly an insult not only to my views, but to my intelligence to and things only get. At worse when the disagreements at stake are the ones that we somehow consider to be fundamental whether to our world views or to our identities, you know, the kinds of disagreement. I mean, one doesn't discuss religion or politics or increasingly the politics of popular culture at the dinner table because these are the disagreements these are the things that people really seriously disagree about and they define themselves against their opponents in the controversy. But of course, those disagreements those fundamental disagreements are precisely the ones that tolerant societies like the United States proposed to tolerate which perhaps explains why historically at least tolerant societies haven't been the happy Clapper communities of difference that you sometimes hear about no they tend to be places where people have to hold their noses in rub along together despite their mutual contempt. That's what I learned from studying religion. Tolerance in early modern England and America, and I also learned that the virtue that makes that unmerciful coexistence if you will possible is the virtue of civility because civility makes our disagreements tolerable. So that we can share a life together. Even if we don't share a face religious, political or otherwise. Still I couldn't help. But notice that when most people talk about civility today, and boy, do they talk about civility allot, they seem to something else in mind. So if civility is the virtue that makes it possible to tolerate disagreement. So that we can actually engage with our opponents talking about civility seems to be mainly a strategy of disengagement. It's a little bit like threatening to take your ball and go home when the game isn't going your way because the funny thing about incivility is that it's always the sin of our opponents. It's funny when it comes to our own bad behaviour. Well, we seem to develop sudden onset usua- or we can always justify it as an appropriate response to the latest outrage from our opponents..