Can human beings forgive?

Ethics and agonism in the face ofdivine violence

James Martel

This chapter will engage with the philosophy of Walter Benjamin in order to consider the question of the possibility of human forgiveness in the face of divine violence. At first glance, Benjamin's notion of divine violence may seem to suggest that judgment and forgiveness are exclusively the province of a God that is utterly unknowable. For Benjamin, when human beings make judgments, they inherently risk idolatry and mythology, a hubristic replacement of the true (divine) font of justice with some imagined (and false) alternative. In the face of the awesome and irrefutable power of the divine, what do we make of the ability of human beings to make their ...

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