Hannah Arendt Center presents:
Lecture by Arendt Center Fellow, Grace Hunt
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Because of truth and reconciliation commissions characteristic of transitional justice, forgiveness has emerged as a political and legal aspiration. In cases where crimes against humanity threaten to extinguish human plurality and dignity, over and over political and social leaders are advocating forgiveness over legal justice. Seen as a willingness to continually participate in an imperfect world with civility, those willing to forgive demonstrate the ability to begin again despite the social facts of moral injury and misrecognition. Forgiving victims who are able to respond creatively rather than vindictively are said to escape the vicious cycle of violence and exemplify their moral agency.
Hunt explores this celebration of political forgiveness in order to ask two questions: First, what does forgiveness really do as a political tool? Second, is Arendt's forgiveness as presented in The Human Condition amenable to the political work forgiveness is said to do in the aftermath of atrocity? Hunt suggests that Arendt understands forgiveness as a cure for the irreversibility of action, not of violence.