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Vladimir JankélévitchThe Time of Forgiveness$
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Aaron T. Looney

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780823262960

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823262960.001.0001

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The Inexcusable and the Unforgivable

The Inexcusable and the Unforgivable

(p.136) 5 The Inexcusable and the Unforgivable
Vladimir Jankélévitch

Aaron T. Looney

Fordham University Press

Chapter Five adopts and deepens the distinction between the excuse and forgiveness addressed in Chapter Two. What can be excused is not the object of forgiveness because the excuse follows the order of reasons and understanding, whereas forgiveness transcends understanding both in its object and as an event. According to Jankélévitch, the inexcusable constitutes the true object of forgiveness. By contrasting Jankélévitch’s conception of wickedness to the predominant Western theories that evil is rooted in either ignorance or a privatio boni, it seeks to clarify the relation between freedom and evil, the correlation between punishment and forgiveness, and the struggle between love and evil. Evil constitutes what Jankélévitch calls the organ-obstacle of forgiveness. It is sometimes organ and sometimes obstacle—a tension that elicits an oscillation in discursive thought between evil and love. The chapter concludes with a meditation on the omnipotence of love and the impotence of love based on Jankélévitch's interpretation of verse 8:6 from The Song of Songs: If love is as strong as evil, he suggests, then evil is stronger than love, and love is stronger than evil. The discussion closes by situating the question of the unforgivable in the context of this unremitting dynamic.

Keywords:   Evil, Inexcusable, Love, Organ-Obstacle, Oscillation, Privatio boni, Punishment, Unforgivable, Wickedness

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