Tagged: “Aristotelian realism”

The essence of forgiveness is to love those who have not loved us.  Yet, I cannot at this point feel love for the one who hurt me.  Does this mean that I am not forgiving?

From the Aristotelian philosophical perspective, there is a difference between what forgiveness is at its core (in its Essence) and how we as imperfect people actually practice forgiving (what Aristotle calls the Existence of forgiving).  We do not have to reach perfection in our Existence of forgiving.  In fact, Aristotle comforts us by saying that is it is very difficult to reach the exact Essence of the moral virtues because we are constantly growing in these virtues as we practice them.  So, if you do not feel love for the one who hurt you, this does not mean that you are not forgiving as long as you are motivated to reduce your resentment toward the person and to offer goodness of some kind (such as civility) to the other.  As you practice forgiving, over and over, you may grow in the moral virtue of agape love (which is love in the service of the other even when it is difficult and painful to do) toward the person.

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Is it possible for most people to understand what forgiveness actually is? I mean, can the vast majority of people come to an accurate understanding of what forgiveness is, without distortion?

I adhere to the philosophy of Aristotelian realism.  This philosophy assumes that people can use their rational faculties to understand the world.  For example, we can distinguish horses from cats because both are real and so are accessible to our reason.  Although much more abstract than horses or cats, forgiveness is accessible to us as are all of the moral virtues such as justice or patience.  Yet, it takes effort and practice to truly and deeply know, for example, how forgiveness differs from the other virtues (forgiveness is offering goodness specifically to others who have been unjust).  In other words, without the persistent effort to know what forgiveness is, people could confuse it with “just letting the unfairness go” or abandoning justice.  Yet, with the persistent effort, yes, most people should be able to understand what forgiveness is.

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