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The Paradox of Forgiveness

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Chapter Summary

In this chapter, the author examines two of the most widespread ways of dealing with the paradoxical nature of forgiveness. One of these ways, emblematized by Aurel Kolnai, seeks to resolve the paradox by appealing to the idea of repentance. Somehow, if a wrongdoer repents, then forgiving the person is no longer paradoxical. He argues that this influential position faces more problems than it solves. The other way to approach the paradox, exemplified by the work of Jacques Derrida, is just too obscure to be by itself helpful. He recommends distinguishing between the definition and the justification of forgiveness, and also between forgiveness understood as a mental phenomenon and an overt, communicative act. By focusing on forgiveness as a mental phenomenon, the author seeks to analyze the root of the talk of paradoxes. Finally, he presents an analysis of forgiveness as a pure mental phenomenon.

Keywords: Aurel Kolnai; communicative act; forgiveness; Jacques Derrida; paradox; repentance



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