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Phenomenology 2010

Volume 5, Issue Part 2, 2010

Selected Essays from North America Part 2

Steen Halling
Pages 149-159

Psychology and the Eclipse of Forgiveness

This chapter, which is based upon empirical phenomenological studies of the experience of forgiving a significant other, details the process people go through as they move from injury to forgiveness. Forgiveness is characterized not just by letting go of anger and resentment but as a movement of compassion toward the injurer and an opening up of a new future in one’s own life. Thus phenomenology reveals that the experience of forgiveness highlights our capacity for transcendence and demonstrates that forgiveness is a discovery rather an action requiring a conscious decision. This portrait of forgiveness is contrasted with traditional psychological studies that eclipse these key features of this phenomenon.

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