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Philosophia Christi

Volume 12, Issue 1, 2010

John B. Howell III
Pages 29-45

Forgiveness and Kierkegaard’s Agapeistic Ethic

In this essay I examine the notion of forgiveness as found in Søren Kierkegaard’s Works of Love. After detailing the work of forgiveness in hiding the multitude of sins, I examine forgiveness as an example of Kierkegaard’s concept of redoubling. Then I relate Kierkegaard’s concept of forgiveness to his concept of hope. Throughout I emphasize the relation between forgiveness and neighbor love, which Kierkegaard views as an essential component of forgiveness. This emphasis counters the prevailing notion in the literature on forgiveness, which views forgiveness as solely concerned with the relinquishing of negative emotions. For Kierkegaard, while this relinquishing is no doubt part of forgiveness, true forgiveness must include love for one’s neighbor.

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