Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Forgiving the Unforgivable?

From Plough-

“Should we pardon them?”

That was the question posed by the French philosopher Vladimir Jankélévitch in a 1971 essay of that title about Nazi war crimes.1 Jankélévitch passionately opposed a statute of limitations for these atrocities.2 He argued that crimes against humanity – those committed in Auschwitz, for example – are dehumanizing in the most basic sense: they attack the very essence of what it is to be human. Crimes like these, he wrote, cannot be covered by reconciliation:

It was the very being of humanity, esse, that racial genocide attempted to annihilate in the suffering flesh of these millions of martyrs. ... When an act denies the essence of a human being as a human being, the statutory limitations that urge absolution in the name of morality actually themselves contradict morality.3

Forgiveness, according to Jankélévitch, died in the concentration camps. (His essay had a powerful effect: as a result of it, in France there was no statute of limitations for Nazi collaborators under the Vichy regime.)

More here-

No comments: