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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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Concerning Unconditionality

(p.208) 7 Repentance
Vladimir Jankélévitch

Aaron T. Looney

Fordham University Press

This chapter inquires into whether there is a pre-condition for the inexcusable, namely teshuvah, metanoia, or repentance. For Jankélévitch, nothing is impossible for forgiveness, yet he adheres to the moral and juridical insistence on the necessity of repentance for the efficaciousness of forgiveness. This chapter contrasts his views with Derrida's emphasis on the unconditional character of forgiveness and shows that this interpretative discrepancy mirrors the ambivalence of the Abrahamitic traditions. A rereading of Lévinas’s Talmud readings underscores the competing logics of unconditionality and conditionality inherent in these religions. This chapter approaches the philosophical problem of repentance historically and systemically, reviewing the positions on repentance by Plato, the Stoics, Kierkegaard, Scheler, and Sartre. Repentance, it demonstrates, revolves around the question of self-transformation and with it, identity and integrity. In this context, the chapter addresses the relations of repentance to guilt, atonement, suffering, and punishment, which provide the background for evaluating Jankélévitch’s phenomenological distinctions between repentance, regret, and remorse.

Keywords:   Atonement, Guilt, Identity, Kierkegaard, Levinas, Metanoia, Regret, Remorse, Scheler, Teshuvah

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