Forgiveness, resentment and agapic love
it is often claimed, involves giving up, letting go or transcending
feelings of resentment. Contemporary discussions of forgiveness
sometimes simply assume that resentment is an entirely negative
phenomenon, one that we are better off without. But is this really so?
Drawing on historical and contemporary work, I question this assumption,
aiming to show how resentment need not be construed simply as a
reaction to personal injury or insult, and that it can speak for
justice. However, if resentment has a positive dimension, and is
sometimes warranted, then why would we forgive? I explore an alternative
answer to this question, based on the Kierkegaard-inspired idea of
forgiveness as a ‘work of love’. One objection to such a view has been
the charge that such love violates justice. Through a consideration of
Nicholas Wolterstorff’s distinction between benevolence-agapism and
care-agapism, I aim to show that such a worry can be avoided. But the
implications of this distinction, I argue, lead us to a different view
of forgiveness from Wolterstorff’s: one that makes more room for a
certain kind of unconditional forgiveness, central to which is the idea
of hope, itself conceived of as a work of love.
is Professor of Ethics and Philosophy of Religion at the University of
Hertfordshire, UK and Honorary Professor of Philosophy at Deakin
University, Australia. John’s philosophical interests include the ethics
of forgiveness, virtues and vices, the relationships between philosophy
and religion, and the ethics of policing (he serves as an ethics
consultant to Hertfordshire Constabulary). He is currently working on a
book entitled Love's Forgiveness, supported by a Major Research
Fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust. Probably best known for his work
on Kierkegaard, John’s previous publications include Humour and Irony in Kierkegaard's Thought (2000), Kierkegaard and the Problem of Self-Love (2013) and the Routledge Guidebook to Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling (second edition, 2016).
by the Baylor Center for Christian Philosophy (BCCP) the Baylor
Philosophy Department and Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion (ISR)
- John Lippitt Lecture (free)
11/02/2018 03:30 PM
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