Volume 82, 2008
Forgiveness and the Refusal of Injustice
This paper focuses on the act of forgiveness understood as an act which involves the recognition of injustice. Its goal is to answer to Arendt, who equates the realm of forgiveness with the possibility of punishment, to Derrida, who limits forgiveness to the unforgivable actions in order to highlight its unconditionality, and to Jankélévitch, who insists that the culprit’s repentance is an indispensable condition to forgiveness. By contrasting forgiveness, retaliation, and resignation, I emphasize that forgiveness implies attributing blame for injustice, but I distinguish this from the sphere of punishment. Secondly, by showing how self-esteem is necessary for the victim and the offender, I underline the significance of the culprit’s avowal. These two elements lead to the distinction between inner forgiveness, which entails a superabundant act and an element of unconditionality, and integral forgiveness, which requires the culprit’s repentance in order to be exchanged by two people.