Forgiveness, representative judgement and love of the world: Exploring the political significance of forgiveness in the context of transitional justice and reconciliation debate

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Abstract

The article examines the political challenge and significance of forgiveness as an indispensable response to the inherently imperfect and tragic nature of political life through the lens of the existential, narrative-inspired judging sensibility. While the political significance of forgiveness has been broadly recognized in transitional justice and reconciliation contexts, the question of its importance and appropriateness in the wake of grave injustice and suffering has commonly been approached through constructing a self-centred, rule-based framework, defining forgiveness in terms of a moral duty or virtue. Reliant on a set of prefabricated moral standards, however, this approach risks abstracting from the historical, situated condition of human political existence and thus arguably stands at a remove from the very quandaries and imperfections of the political world, which it purports to address. Against this background, this article draws on Albert Camus’s and Hannah Arendt’s aesthetic, worldly judging sensibility and its ability to kindle the process of coming to terms with the absurd, and perhaps unforgivable character of reality after evil. As an aptitude to engage the world in its particularity, plurality and contingency rather than seeking to subdue and tame it under prefabricated standards of thought, namely, worldly judgement is able to reveal how past tragedies have arisen from the ambiguity of human engagement in the world and thereby also elicit the distinctly human capacities of beginning anew and resisting such actions in the future. As such, I suggest, it is well-suited to bring into clearer focus and confront the main political challenge and significance of forgiveness: how to acknowledge the seriousness of the wrongs committed, yet also enable the possibility of a new beginning and restore among former enemies the sense of responsibility for the shared world.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1079-1098
Number of pages20
JournalPhilosophia
Volume44
Issue number4
Early online date8 Jun 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2016

Keywords

  • political forgiveness
  • representative judgement
  • tragedy of political action
  • reconciliation with reality
  • love of the world

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