Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Glen Pettigrove's "Forgiveness and Love"

Glen Pettigrove is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Auckland. He is the author of a number of articles in moral and political philosophy, and his work has appeared in leading journals including the Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Ethics, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, and Religious Studies.

Pettigrove applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Forgiveness and Love, and reported the following:
At least since the time of Plato, philosophers have been investigating 1) how things that appear to be different are, in fact, similar and 2) how things that appear similar are importantly different. Page 99 of Forgiveness and Love finds me up to my elbows in the second task, as a sentence in the first full paragraph nicely illustrates: ‘Here again there are several distinct questions that one might be asking that need to be disambiguated.’ As such, the 99th page is fairly representative of the book as a whole.

Earlier chapters have been looking at what unites various things that go by the name of forgiveness. They examine what forgiveness is, what it is about, and who has the standing to do it. Chapters 4 and 5, while not abandoning this first task, shift the emphasis to the second. Chapter 4 takes its inspiration from the old adage, ‘To understand is to forgive,’ and examines several different things that go by the name of understanding, looking at how each of them might encourage forgiving (or not). Chapter 5, which is where the 99th page falls, explores the remarkable complexities of the relationship between forgiveness and love.

One reason for engaging in the philosopher’s tasks is to improve our understanding of ourselves and our world. And since we – and the people with whom we live – are regular offenders (falling short of any number of moral standards), the activities and emotions related to forgiveness are certainly worth trying to understand. But our interest is not limited to what we are like. It also extends to the question of how we ought to be. The 99th page falls at the point in the book where I begin to shift attention from descriptive issues to normative ones. In this respect, too, page 99 is representative of the whole. It draws on observations made in earlier chapters and points forward to the themes of later ones, where I look at when it is permissible or impermissible, commendable or objectionable to forgive. The hope is that by the time the reader reaches page 99 – and certainly by the time she reaches page 159 – she will have a better grasp of the extraordinarily complicated thing(s) we call forgiveness and a clearer sense of why it matters.
Learn more about Forgiveness and Love at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue