U.S. Intellectual History Blog

CFP: The Monist on Forgiveness

The Monist, an international quarterly journal, seeks submissions for an upcoming issue centered on the theme of “forgiveness.” Below is a seed of inspiration for submitters as provided by professor Leo Zaibert of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside (cross-posted from H-Ideas).

I’ll be curious to see, when the themed issue is published, if any national differences exist with regard to conceptions of forgiveness. The U.S., known historically for giving second chances (whether true or not), can be both very forgiving and unforgiving. I wonder how this will play out in analysis? – TL


” ‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.’ Taken literally, this famous passage is puzzling. For on the one hand if they really did not know what they were doing, and assuming that this ignorance was not culpable, then surely they should be excused, and not forgiven. Forgiveness, as a matter of sheer logic, presupposes culpable wrongdoing. On the other hand, if they did know that they were doing wrong, then presumably they should have been punished and, again, not forgiven. To understand forgiveness, it seems, we need to know how exactly it differs from a series of other phenomena such as punishing and blaming, on the one hand, and pardoning and condoning on the other. This issue of The Monist welcomes contributions addressing these and related questions, including:

– What, if anything, justifies forgiveness?
– How does forgiveness relate to mercy, leniency, and mere forgetting?
– Can, or should, forgiveness be granted unconditionally, or does it necessitate repentance on the part of the wrongdoer?
– And what, for that matter, is repentance?
– Can forgiveness be granted by anyone or only by those directly wronged?
– And how is purely mental forgiveness related to that sort of forgiveness that is communicated to the wrongdoer, or to someone else, in words?”

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