Philosophy Today 65 (4):863-879 (2021)

Victims of abuse and violence are often pressured to forgive their perpetrators. The idea of unconditional forgiveness—forgiveness granted regardless of apology, remorse, or change of behavior—has become a norm for many in the west and those who refuse to forgive are often seen as resentful and bitter. Yet those imploring forgiveness are often the powerful and those asked to forgive are often minorities who have comparatively little power. Since forgiveness in western culture derives from Jesus’s teachings, I return to those teachings. While the verse “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing,” is often cited as what Jesus taught, the reality is that his teaching about forgiveness is strongly connected to repentance or remorse. I show how those teachings have been significantly distorted to create the norm of unconditional forgiveness. Finally, I consider the value and place of resentment.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  Continental Philosophy
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DOI 10.5840/philtoday202183424
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