Does forgiveness come from within us? Is it innate or just a learned characteristic? I wonder what Christianity has to say about this?
I doubt that we are born with forgiveness in our heart because of the Christian idea of original sin. According to Aristotle, we have the **capacity** or the **potential** to develop in the moral virtues, but it takes effort to grow in these virtues. Christianity, I think, would agree with this idea of potential because, according to the Hebrew scriptures, we are all made in the image and likeness of God.
It seems to me that for forgiveness to succeed, it is necessary for low self-esteem and toxic anger to disappear. What do you think?
For forgiveness to significantly raise a person’s self-esteem and to lower toxic anger, the person needs to commit, with a strong will, to the practice of forgiveness. This takes, as Aristotle says, practice, practice, and more practice. Our Process Model of Forgiveness is an empirically-verified way of helping people to reduce in negative emotions. Yet, when we forgive, we do not necessarily leave all negative psychological issues behind. For example, we still may have some residual anger, but that anger now no longer controls us. Instead, we are in control of the anger.
In case you missed it, you can now watch Dr. Robert Enright’s presentation during yesterday’s (Feb. 4) Greek Forgiveness Education webinar, on YouTube–for free. Details about the webinar can be found in the article posted immediately below this one.
The unique webinar was broadcast live via Zoom video conferencing from Greece. More than 4,500 individuals participated in the webinar or have watched the YouTube video since it was posted.
Dr. Enright, Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and founder of the International Forgiveness Institute (IFI) was the featured presenter for the webinar. His topic, “The Healing Value of Forgiveness from the Aristotelian Philosophical Perspective,” has special significance in Greece because Greek philosophers like Aristotle not only helped shape the world some twenty centuries ago, but they are still very much alive in the principles underlying what is being taught in the country today.
“I have been relying on Aristotle for 35 years,” Dr. Enright said in his opening remarks during the webinar–the same length of time he has been studying the “moral virtue” (Aristotle’s term) of forgiveness. “The English translation of what Aristotle described as a moral virtue is ‘magnanimity’ or ‘largeness of heart,’” Dr. Enright added–what he calls the very essence of forgiveness.
Following Dr. Enright’s presentation, Dr. Peli Galiti, Director of the IFI’s Greek Forgiveness Education Program spoke on “The Way to Forgiveness: From Theory to Practice.” For the past eight years, Dr. Galiti has been conducting Forgiveness Education training workshops for Greek teachers. During that time, she has trained more than 600 teachers to use the Forgiveness Education Program developed by Dr. Enright which is now being taught to more than 6,000 Greek students.
Although Aristotle did not explicitly use the word humility, philosophers following in the Aristotelian tradition have seen humility as a moral virtue between the vices of dogmatism or arrogance on the one hand and timidity or moral weakness on the other (Hazlett, 2012). In other words, humility is a quest for truth about the self and others that avoids extremes.
Hazlett, A. (2012). Higher-order epistemic attitudes and intellectual humility. Episteme, 9, 205–223.
Thank you for answering my question about getting to know what forgiveness is. I have another question for you: Is it possible for most people to go through the forgiveness process (your 20-unit Process Model) in a genuine way and to the full extent of forgiving?
I again, will refer to Aristotle and his wisdom about becoming perfected in the moral virtues. According to Aristotle’s observations, all people have the potential for perfection in the moral virtues, but we do not reach that highest level of perfection because we are imperfect beings. This actually keeps life interesting. As we strive to get better in forgiveness or justice or love, we always have room for more improvement. Yes, we do get better with practice, but no matter what our age or experience, we can look forward to more insights, surprises, and growth.