Margalit and Derrida on Forgiveness and the Skandalon

“Stumble stones” in Berlin’s Wilmersdorf district November 7, 2008/Fabrizio Bensch

As I see it, the limit of forgiveness is not within our voluntary power, an act of will, but rather in developing the capacity to imagine the act that we are trying to forgive. Thus the skandalon of forgiveness is an imaginative challenge, we stumble over it when acts are unimaginable, and we overleap it when our imagination succeeds. We make these imagined acts meaningful for others through poiesis: we create a world of meaning in which they are imaginable by marking exemplars, noting commonalities, and creating spaces of remembrance. The product of our work thus makes these meaningless deaths and thought-defying atrocities meaningful and thinkable. If you think about it from the perspective of un-consolable resentment, this is a crime akin to justification or exoneration.

Chesterton’s Fence

I try to defend conservatism sometimes. I also like Chesterton. Here’s one reason why: In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say,… Continue reading Chesterton’s Fence

The Teleological Paradox in Utilitarianism and Education

In my brief response to Community College Dean a few weeks back, I said something that I think is pretty obvious, but that is often ignored: humanities advocates spend so much time fighting the instrumental approach to education [because] you’ve got to pretend like time doesn’t matter, or else the education won’t work. Consider the classic… Continue reading The Teleological Paradox in Utilitarianism and Education