Philosopher Vladimir Jankélévitch has only recently begun to receive his due from the English-speaking world, thanks in part to discussions of his thought by Jacques Derrida, Emmanuel Lévinas, and Paul Ricoeur. His international readers have long valued his unique, interdisciplinary approach to philosophy’s greatest questions and his highly readable writing style. Originally published in 1967, Le Pardon, or Forgiveness, is one of Jankélévitch’s most influential works. In it, he characterizes the ultimate ethical act of forgiving as behaving toward the perpetrator as if he or she had never committed the action, rather than merely forgetting or rationalizing it—a controversial notion when considering events as heinous as the Holocaust. Like so many of Jankélévitch’s works, Forgiveness transcends standard treatments of moral problems, not simply generating a treatise on one subject but incorporating discussions of topics such as free will, giving, creativity, and temporality. Translator Andrew Kelley masterfully captures Jankélévitch’s melodic prose and, in a substantive introduction, reviews his life and intellectual contributions. Forgiveness is an essential part of that legacy, and this indispensable English translation provides key tools for understanding one of the great Western philosophers of the twentieth century.
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To Understand Is to Forgive
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