Freedom and Forgiveness: In Debate With Paul Ricoeur Philosophy of the Will
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The question of forgiveness arose for Paul Ricoeur from the first moment of his phenomenology of the will. Isolating consciousness in order to describe its structure, especially that of its willing dimension (freedom), presupposes a distancing from the world, but also a distancing from evil. The precondition of this distancing is forgiveness. Forgiveness appears when consciousness is ready to reject the finitude that, of necessity, opposes itself to freedom: this ‘face’ of forgiveness, distinguished from the articulation of phenomenology and hermeneutics, is the admiration carried by Stoic and Orphic myths. This forgiveness releases freedom from an evil identified as contempt for finitude. Forgiveness appears next when the evil endured at the hands of another challenges one’s freedom: this essay will develop what Ricoeur could only sketch regarding the idea of “Franciscan” hope. Forgiveness appears, finally, when Ricoeur explores it in connection with guilt. In conclusion, this essay seeks to articulate the unity shared between these ‘faces’ of forgiveness.