Tolerance Will Reach Such a Level: Quote Explanation

In the complex landscape of ideas and beliefs, the concept of tolerance plays a vital role in promoting understanding and harmony. However, there is a thought-provoking quote that challenges the limits of tolerance and its potential consequences. The quote, “Tolerance will reach such a level that intelligent people will be banned from thinking so as not to offend the imbeciles,” highlights a concerning scenario where intellectual freedom may be stifled in the pursuit of avoiding offense. In this article, we will explore the origin of this quote, delve into its profound meaning, and analyze the implications it presents.

Origin of the Quote:

The quote, “Tolerance will reach such a level that intelligent people will be banned from thinking so as not to offend the imbeciles,” is often attributed to French author and philosopher François-Marie Arouet, better known as Voltaire. Although the exact source of this quote remains elusive, it is widely associated with his philosophical ideas and critiques of society.

Exploring the Meaning:

Voltaire’s quote raises important questions about the delicate balance between tolerance, intellectual freedom, and the potential consequences of extreme tolerance. Let’s delve into the depths of its meaning to gain a comprehensive understanding.

  1. The Paradox of Tolerance: The quote highlights the paradoxical nature of tolerance when taken to its extreme. While tolerance is essential for fostering diversity and respecting different viewpoints, there exists a tipping point where excessive tolerance can stifle intellectual growth and critical thinking. When society prioritizes avoiding offense over the pursuit of truth and reasoned discourse, it risks silencing the voices of intellectuals and hindering the progress of society as a whole.
  2. Suppression of Intellectual Freedom: Voltaire’s quote alludes to a dystopian scenario where intelligent individuals, driven by fear of offending those with limited intellectual capacity, refrain from expressing their thoughts and ideas. This implies that in an environment that excessively values tolerance, intellectual freedom and the open exchange of ideas may be curtailed. Such restrictions on intellectual discourse can have detrimental consequences for the advancement of knowledge and hinder social progress.
  3. Challenging the Status Quo: By highlighting the potential consequences of extreme tolerance, the quote encourages us to critically examine the values and beliefs that shape our society. It prompts us to question whether our collective pursuit of tolerance may unintentionally suppress intellectual curiosity, diversity of thought, and the exploration of innovative ideas. It serves as a reminder that the freedom to think and express oneself should be safeguarded in order to nurture intellectual growth and advance society.

Expanding on the Topic:

To further explore the topic, it is essential to consider the delicate balance between tolerance and intellectual freedom. While tolerance promotes inclusivity and respect for diverse perspectives, it is crucial to maintain an environment that encourages intellectual debate and critical thinking. This requires nurturing a culture that values both tolerance and the open exchange of ideas, allowing for constructive dialogue and the exploration of new concepts.


Voltaire’s quote, “Tolerance will reach such a level that intelligent people will be banned from thinking so as not to offend the imbeciles,” serves as a thought-provoking commentary on the potential consequences of extreme tolerance. It raises important considerations regarding the delicate balance between fostering a tolerant society and preserving intellectual freedom. By critically evaluating the implications of excessive tolerance, we can strive to create an environment that celebrates diversity, encourages intellectual growth, and fosters constructive dialogue for the betterment of humanity.

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