Forgiveness: a gift that gives nothing but returns everything

Laura Boella Gherardo Colombo

Forgiveness: a gift that gives nothing but returns everything

may fri 25, 2012 - 21.15
piazza del Duomo
 admission euro 3.00

Forgiveness is one of the thorniest dilemmas of contemporary ethics. It is invoked with regard to offences, wrongs, individual misdeed, but often also to the evil perpetrated in the name of an idea of civilization, of a totalitarian ideology, of a religious faith, and even in legal matters. The etymology of the word ‘forgiveness’ in Italian is connected with the idea of renouncing, for instance one’s rights, or excusing something. But the term is also associated to the notion of disinterested, unconditional giving—a giving which gives nothing but returns or restores everything. The essence of forgiveness is restoring the ability to act to someone who would otherwise remain forever entrapped in the deed performed: this someone is thus offered a chance to become something different from his past misdeed. So forgiveness really means that no-one can even be reduced to the sum of his or her failures. Forgiving thus not only means rebuilding a relationship that the offense destroyed, but also restarting life’s game for the other.

Laura Boella is a Professor of Moral Philosophy at the Università Statale of Milan. She has studied the major 20th-century female thinkers and is an expert on Hannah Arendt, Simone Weil, Maria Zambrano and Edith Stein. She has focussed on interpersonal relationships and on the feelings of sympathy, empathy, compassion. Among her most recent books are: Sentire l’altro. Conoscere e praticare l’empatia (2006), Neuroetica. La morale prima della morale (2008), all published by Raffaello Cortina; Credere oggi (with Enzo Bianchi, Il Margine, 2012). Gherardo Colombo is a retired judge, has led a number of major investigations by the Italian authorities on organized crime, corruption, terrorism and mafia. He is vice-president of Garzanti Publishers. His books include: Il vizio della memoria (Feltrinelli, 1998); Sulle regole (Feltrinelli, 2008); Sei Stato tu? La Costituzione attraverso le domande dei bambini (with A. Sarfatti, Salani, 2009); Democrazia (Bollati Boringhieri, 2011); Educare alla legalità (Salani, 2011); Il perdono responsabile (Ponte alle Grazie, 2011); Farla Franca (with Franco Marzoli, Longanesi, 2012).

Gherardo Colombo is a retired judge, has led a number of major investigations by the Italian authorities on organized crime, corruption, terrorism and mafia. He is vice-president of Garzanti Publishers. His books include: Il vizio della memoria (Feltrinelli, 1998); Sulle regole (Feltrinelli, 2008); Sei Stato tu? La Costituzione attraverso le domande dei bambini (with A. Sarfatti, Salani, 2009); Democrazia (Bollati Boringhieri, 2011); Educare alla legalità (Salani, 2011); Il perdono responsabile (Ponte alle Grazie, 2011); Farla Franca (with Franco Marzoli, Longanesi, 2012).

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