Forgiveness is the greatest vengeance

Forgiveness is the best revenge

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In this saying yes and no add up to the virtue of being able to forgive. Those who forgive show generosity, forbearance, understanding, and humanity; power is exercised at the same time as the act of forgiveness. To a certain extent, these two characteristics represent the intellectual, emotional and moral challenge that forgiveness does not become a non-binding, simply uttered gesture - as is the case e.g. B. in the winged word; "Forgive the hard word!" (Julius Stettenheim, 1831–1919), and because it is meant more as an empty phrase than an honest and serious wish. The term “forgiveness” expresses that with serious will and after conscious reflection, “pardon” is given for something that has been done to one as an injustice. The reasons for this, however, can be different: On the one hand, there is the religious, Christian view, as it is expressed in the Old Testament when describing the stubbornness and selfish behavior of the ancestral believers: “But you, my God, forgave and were gracious , merciful, patient and of great goodness and did not forsake them ”[1]. When in the New Testament Peter asks Christ, “Lord, how often must I forgive my brother who sins against me? Is it enough seven times? ", Jesus replied:" I tell you: not seven times, but seventy times seven times "[2] In Islam, the law applies that someone is punished for his wrongdoing in the name of God. “But whoever turns back after his sin and reforms himself, behold, Allah turns to him also; see Allah is Forgiving and Merciful ”[3]. In Buddhism it is the “noble path” that should determine people's lives: the center and balance as a path to good that can only be walked and experienced by the individual. Injustice happens because people act out of ignorance and unbridled feelings. So it's about striving for understanding and tolerance; because "to understand everything means to forgive everything" [4]. In Hinduism, the “Dharma” indicates a physical and spiritual life that is worth striving for. In the “Ksaama”, compatibility, forgiveness, equanimity and patience are presented as virtues: “Those who are like-minded with friends and enemies, those who maintain equanimity in honor and disgrace, heat and cold, happiness and suffering as well as fame and shame, who are always free from defilement Community, who is always silent and satisfied with everything, who does not care about accommodation, who is established in knowledge and is engaged in my devotional service - such a person is very dear to me ”[5].

To forgive means to give humanity

In ancient Aristotelian philosophy, "hamartia", to make a mistake, will do something inappropriate as a morally bad act: while the virtuous behaves correctly in relation to his passions, the wicked "misses" the appropriate behavior ", one could do oneself fail in many ways, but behave correctly in only one way [6]. He takes these philosophical-sociological-psychological questions French philosopher Jacques Derrida with the “philosophy of deconstruction” by taking the standpoint of the “other” in interpersonal relationships and looking at how communication and action take place. When dealing with the virtue of “forgiveness” he starts from expectations of exchange, and he comes to the realization that there are limits to forgiving and forgiving, namely those of wanting to forgive what one cannot generally forgive. In the current, cultural-sociological discourse, the question of the "gift" raised by the French sociologist in 1924 is taken up again [7]. The Berlin philosopher Svenja Flaßpöhler deals with the claim that philosophy can actually be a “doctrine of life” with very concrete examples of how forgiveness succeeds and what reasons and causes can contribute to failure [8].

Those who forgive are aware of themselves

The desirable and existentially necessary goal of being human is to develop one's own identity with the question: “Who am I?”. Man as zôon politikon (Aristotle) is by virtue of its ability to reason, its competence, to form general judgments and to be able to differentiate between good and bad, a living being that is dependent on a peaceful, just and equal, i.e. humane, coexistence with other people. In global ethics, the universal and non-relativizable Universal Declaration of Human Rights of December 10, 1948, it is clearly and unequivocally stated that the recognition of the dignity inherent in all members of the human family and their equal and inalienable rights is the basis of freedom and justice and build peace in the world [9]. Because humans are fundamentally changeable living beings, dependent on changing themselves and striving for a good, successful life, the question of the human condition is one of the essential and fundamental challenges of being human. In terms of practical and lifeworld anthropology, this means that " what is possible () for humans (is) recognizable in what was previously possible for humans, but this is not its final measure. Everything that has been there is possible for people, but by no means everything has already been there ”. The way in which people shape their very concrete, individual and local and global social life is always integrated on the one hand into the power and impotence of their own existence, the experience that fear creates their own realities that rob people of their ability to act, and on the other hand in the hope and creativity that a different, better, humane (one?) world is possible, and this with a change of perspective, as the World Commission “Culture and Development” (1995) propagates: “Humanity stands before the Challenge to rethink, to reorient and reorganize socially, in short: to find new ways of life ”[10]. Such an understanding of people offers the chance to broaden the awareness of anthropos in everyday and social interactions between people [11].

Self-respect means living upright

At least two are always part of self-respect. This already expresses that the quality of recognizing, having and claiming one's own human dignity must always be linked to the attitude that other individuals and societies have towards me and make possible. All philosophers at all times have defined the "self" as a value in itself. Since the question Platos what something is in truth and reality (tí poté estín), the search for one's own identity and human being is considered and named in ever new variations and thought constructs. So self-esteem has something to do with the individual value of self and life and the cultural identities of people as a whole, and self-confidence, which must be constantly and painstakingly developed, worked out and defended. In philosophical and scientific thinking, self-respect itself has a referential and self-regulating meaning, which requires observation of oneself and others. " It is helpful, if you want to assure yourself of your own self-esteem, to become aware of the biological, anthropological and social as well as personal requirements for self-respect. Because misunderstood, ideologically set and historically developed forms of (so-called) self-esteem can easily congeal into negative forms such as egoism, arrogance, overestimation of oneself and notions of superiority. It is good to become aware of the philosophical meaning of the human value “respect” and to ask how self-esteem can be distinguished from related terms, how the property is expressed in human nature and represented legally and morally, and what measures to take are to be seized when the ability for self-respect either cannot develop through negative developments or is destroyed and destroyed. It is best to start with individual, everyday experiences and access the local and global social and political conditions in the world. Because the categorical imperative that appears to be self-evident - that, as it is popularly known, what you do not want someone to do to you, do not add that to anyone else - is not taken for granted, but acquired in family, school, work and everyday life needs to be educated in self-respect [12].

Representation as visualization

In epistemology, representation is understood to be the representation, mapping or conception of a whole through an individual, as the mental making present of something that is not present. In the interplay of philosophy, psychology and the cognitive sciences, representations are understood as reflections and inner ideas of something that a person perceives in the mind, as parts of memories of the perception of the ego and the description of the processes that take place in the brain when sensory stimuli. Ultimately, it is the question of a person's imagination and ability in view of their self-perception. We are at the question of the questions: "Who am I?", This ancient philosophical, always controversial look-up, which is presented in the Aristotelian tauton - heteron as the same and different, or raised to the philosophical pedestal with the Kantian questions - “What can I know? What should I do? What can I hope for? What is the human?". The Mainz philosopher Thomas Metzinger traces the phenomenon that our consciousness, i.e. everything we see and hear, touch and feel, smell, taste with our sensory organs, is only a fraction of what really happens and exists in our environment. Conscious experience is like a "tunnel". The catchphrase for his book title has been found: "Ego tunnel". And the ego, which we believe to be our “self”, is nothing more than “a transparent mental image” that mirrors us an image of reality. Because in reality there is no such thing as “the” self. This is the exceedingly exciting, unsettling and new consideration of our "certainties", albeit with the comforting announcement that the ego tunnel is not a prison and that we would not find the exit; rather, he sets out with other humanities scholars to explore how positive, present-day and future-oriented (local and global) questions of humanity can be answered in our real existing (one?) world. This shows a real culture of consciousness in which the neural states of consciousness become recognizable, how we can implement the knowledge about them in our social consciousness and live them with intellectual honesty and spirituality [13].

What is trust

“Having trust” as an ethical and moral characteristic has a high priority in philosophical, social and everyday individual thinking and acting. "Trust is a phenomenon that ... can reduce complexity and facilitate cooperation or make it possible in the first place" [14]. Virtue is based on two conditions: the ability to give and receive trust. There is a demand for trust everywhere, and trust is formally and factually offered and demanded on diverse, private, social, cultural and political occasions. The “question of trust”, for example in a parliamentary context, is just as important as in a personal relationship, in family and friends. Mistrust, on the other hand, creates conflicts, can divide people and lead to battles between nations and civil wars. You can confidently entrust secrets to someone you trust; and shop stewards, as ombudsman or ombudswoman are impartial arbitrators who exercise institutionally confirmed functions in the event of disputes or legal disputes [15]. The Historian and director of the Berlin Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Ute Frevert, presents a book with “Questions of Trust” with which, as the subtitle puts it, she states “an obsession with modernity”. She does not just want to take the term literally, but rather to work out the various meanings, forms of application and intellectual and everyday expressions historically and up-to-date. It is the balancing act like the prerequisite for the question of what trust is: "Does the other person who asks the trust question mean the same as me?" And it is the linguistic acts and the non-verbal, emotional and rational gestures that enable an examination of the diverse forms of expression and possibilities to ensure trust: "Trust as a personal, interpersonal feeling sails, as it were, in the slipstream of modern security architecture". The fact that it refers to the term “good governance” in this context also shows that an individual and societal examination of the virtue of “trust” is urgently needed locally and globally [16].

Domains of Justice

The dikaiosynê, justice, is already formulated by the Greek philosophers as a legal sense and basic conception of the good and right life. Plato places it as a virtue of virtue above all other ways of thinking and behaving of people; and Aristotle distinguishes between equalizing and distributing justice. While the first virtue expresses legal and legal justice, the second differentiation is about distributive justice. With Rawls “Theory of Justice” (1971/1975) concretizes the modern view that on the one hand the principles of freedom and equality and on the other hand the demands for social and economic justice are fundamental for every human being. The search for global justice perspectives always begins and ends in the synopsis of local and global human needs and hopes. In the philosophical, ethical, social and political theoretical discourse on the global justice problem, two views have emerged that are argumentatively and practically contradicting each other. The scientific debate ranges from the search for follow-up arguments to the topic and perception-centered argumentation: cosmopolitanism versus particularism. While on the one hand the “justice-theoretical cosmopolitanism” set global justice and moral significance as the cornerstone of the theory, the “justice-theoretical particularism” states that the “principles of justice do not extend across the globe, but rather that they cover very specific domains of righteousness are limited ”[17].

Tolerance is an individual and collective virtue

While on the one hand a tolerant attitude is seen as a natural behavior and is based on the knowledge that without active tolerance a peaceful, equal and humane coexistence is not possible, on the other hand intolerance is used as an ideological and power tool to justify ideas of higher value. The American philosopher Martha Nussbaum analyzes the current conditions in the world and makes it clear that fear as a “narcissistic feeling” often has to be used to defend interests and ideologies. She points out that it is meaningful and important to deal with the psychological, philosophical and anthropological reasons and causes of how fears arise, but are also used politically and ideologically. With the historical reflections and the current assignments of how rational fear can bring about survival strategies and irrational fear can erect walls and command posts, the author makes an example of an existential challenge: "Fear is a 'darkening prejudice', an intense focus on oneself, that banishes other people into the darkness ”. Basic principles are required which, as individual and collective virtues, ensure that people are able to lead a “good life”.It is the recognition and respect of human dignity that must not be disregarded or overridden under any circumstances; it is equality, justice and freedom that everyone is entitled to; and it is active tolerance that commands every human being to see all of humanity in himself. A look at European and American history clearly shows that the criteria for creating national feeling, cultural and intercultural identities are diverse and require an intellectual, historical and socio-political consideration. "We must carefully consider what a burden is on a person's free exercise of religion, and what it means to learn to look at the world from the perspective of that religion, instead of seeing its needs as bad and as an insult to the majority religion". The author discusses the question of how decisions are made that lead to behavior in connection with the demand for practicing impartiality; and based on the Socratic demand that people, if they want to live peacefully and justly together, a “self-explored life” is necessary. How this could look like, reflected on Martha Nussbaum beyond Socrates - and into our real world [18].

The question is not: "What should we do?", But rather: "What should we not?"

The term "serenity" encompasses a lot: omission, omission, letting go, abandoning, letting go, letting go, letting go .... The meaning we want to attach to virtue is not "sitting out" or "distraction, but concentration, concentration on that what is essential to man ”. In the philosophical discourse this characterization is called “negative ethics”; namely in the sense of “refraining from the lordly or violent access of the thinking subject to the object; to also let it be, “to take over beings with the human concepts”; to refrain from “delivering all that is to man”; also to refrain from “seeing oneself as the center and center of beings” [19]. Thinking about "serenity", such as the propagation of attitudes and behaviors to slow down life, are indications that the developments that have arisen in the age of media-based, technological and capitalized modernity should be changed towards the courage to face life: "Let it be ". This change of perspective in no way means turning to the eternal and outdated, but rather discovering new, future-oriented, human perspectives with the “courage” [20].

"I could be the other myself"

Prejudices are ways of thinking and behaving in the form of rejection, antipathy, discrimination, stigmatization, xenophobia or a racist attitude towards individuals and communities. This from Gordon W. Allport Formulated definition classifies prejudices and stereotyping as negative attitudes that need to be recognized and revised; First of all in the upbringing and education of people and as a requirement for a “prejudice-conscious education”. It cannot be a question of condemning prejudices per se, let alone wanting to eradicate them; rather, it is important to recognize that “there are prejudices and prejudices” and to clarify the complex typology of prejudices and stereotypes; because "prejudices are the product of an existing society". So they are neither put in the genes nor in the cradle. This also makes it clear that it is the task of the zôon politikon to be aware of the negative manifestations of prejudices. Scientific research on prejudice provides indications that it is not important to negate prejudices or to want to get them out of the world, but rather "to find ways to deal with prejudices, to reduce them and to control their explosive, murderous potentials". In order for this to take effect, no recipes are required, but a holistic view that - interdisciplinary - expands in the form of a manual and provides objective standards for evaluating and dealing with prejudices. The origins, forms and meaning of prejudices require special attention in order to enable a democratic, peaceful, free and social coexistence of people in national societies as well as in a global framework. Because in the words of Albert Einstein "A prejudice () is harder to split than an atom", scientific discussion and research are required in order to bring a prejudice-conscious awareness into the minds and hearts of people [21].

Everyone is a mystic

The exciting, anthropological and psychological change of perspective, that mystics are not unique people, but that every person is a unique mystic, opens up unimagined, both positive and questionable perspectives. As the American psychologist Abraham H. Maslow In his search for humanity, he simply turned the question "What makes people mentally ill?" up until then, and looked up positively with the question "What distinguishes people who are particularly mentally healthy?" "Mentally particularly healthy people tend to have 'mystical experiences'". This astonishing finding, which is contrary to the traditional mainstream of psychology and psychotherapy, also has the Austrian-born finding belonging to a contemplative branch of the Benedictine order in the USA Psychologist and theologian David Steindl-Rast prompts to look for bridges between Western Christian thought and Zen Buddhism. He finds the key to this in Maslow's discoveries that “peak experiences” influence human existence and actions to a greater extent than genetically predetermined or culturally created situations. With the questions - "How good a society allows human nature?" And "How good human nature does society allow" - he brings transcendent thinking and experience back to earth and the everyday world of people: "Man possesses a higher one and transcendent nature, and it is part of his being, that is, of his biological nature as a member of a species that has evolved ”. He puts traditional relationships and "certainties" to the test; In the social existence of the people he advocates a separation of church and state, but not for an “eradication” of either one or the other institution, because “one-sidedness makes you sick”. This applies equally to the relationship between science and religion: while the atheist burns down the house instead of renovating it, the orthodox scientist also denies spiritual and ethical values. On the other hand, differentiating scientists will be able to recognize that "religious searches, religious longing, religious needs ... are completely worthy of science, that they are deeply rooted in human nature, that they can be scientifically researched ...". So come Maslow to the realization that all "supernatural revelations" transmitted and based on the world religions and religious worldviews can no longer and no less be interpreted as "completely natural, human peak experiences". When asked about "organizational dangers to transcendent experiences", Maslow even dared to make a statement that should indeed be thought about: In his therapeutic experiences and research, he found that "non-theistic religious people" seem to be more religious, think more transcendentally and mysteriously than conventionally religious people [22].

"Those who live have to deal with paradoxes"

“When right is left and left is right” - this statement can be a call to despair, a resignation parameter, or a structuralist method to develop principles of order and organization between logic and rationality in the way of life. The borderline of applying psychological and psychiatric concepts to sociological thinking and research can be made possible with the help of systems theory, also because “one can view both the psyche and the organization as a cognitive system”. Playing with paradoxes is a well-known adventure of making claims ad absurdum. In philosophical thinking, for example at Aristotle, the designation of an object or a consideration is subject to either a true-false dichotomy or a definition of essence that presents itself as neither true nor false and is therefore subject to a two-valued logic. In order to be able to explain discrepancies and contradictions, reference must be made to “modern discontinuity (s)”. It is important to clarify terms as they are used in the discourse about "momentaryism" historically and in modern times; for example what is meant by “temporalization” in the popular law of modernity. The “moment as function” and the “moment as substance” are made clear in numerous (literary and philosophical) sources and make it clear that “the change from function to substance within the temporal method cannot simply be explained in terms of epoch-history”. He undertakes a border hike from the "undecidability of the truth or falseness of statements" Physician, sociologist and organizational developer from the University of Witten / Herdecke, Fritz B. Simon, with his book on paradox management. In doing so, he takes on the filling areas as they are in family life, in business and in politics. Because our individual everyday life as well as our social existence is determined by highly complex, "logical" paradoxes, we are challenged to develop our thinking and acting beyond simple "either-or principles". Order and disorder are the two sides of the same coin: "In order to explain the origin of disorder, we have to study the origin of order and to find out what brings about, maintains, changes or dissolves a certain order" [23].

Global ethics of responsibility

If we look at the state of the world and humanity, one could complain to Heinrich Heine that we are being thrown out of the water. The have-nots are getting poorer locally and globally, and the already wealthy are getting richer. This opens up a gap on earth that not only prevents humanity or makes it ineffective, but also becomes an avalanche that makes a humane life impossible for all people. The fight against world poverty is on the locally and globally oriented agenda; and it even seems to be the case that there is an inkling in the individual and social consciousness that “the extreme deprivations of people living in poverty are generally judged negatively and morally intolerable”; however, they tend to remain “ineffective because they do not specifically hold anyone accountable”. The Philosopher from the Free University of Berlin, Valentin Beck, presents a “theory of global responsibility”. He advocates using the traditional concept of responsibility “in the face of the material situation of part of the world's population, a correction and supplementation of some common moral concepts”; namely to put responsibility in the focus of humane responsibility in addition to the importance of responsible thinking and acting. In doing so, he starts from four premises: On the one hand, from the "scope", i.e. the justifications for the validity of the wealthy in the world, to ensure justice (cf. also the considerations on "effective altruism" by Peter Singer, William MacAskill, among other things), secondly from the question of the “content of norms”, from the significance that allow or even create extreme poverty in the world, third from “weight”, the assessment of the attention paid to global poverty responsibility in comparison with other moral ones Values ​​received; and finally, fourth, the important question about the relationship between individual and collective responsibility [24].


Our topic - being able to forgive, exercising foresight and forbearance, giving pardon - is as a virtue a symbol of humanity. In view of the increasingly interdependent, delimiting, socially and materially unjust and ideologically and ideologically differently developing (one?) World, attention [25] is necessary in order to update our understanding of ourselves and the world. A change of perspective is the order of the day. Both in dealing with fellow human beings in our immediate surroundings, in our own society, and on a global scale with humanity. It is the confrontation with the various forms of ethics of responsibility, as they are at Max Weber as consequences for the world arise and with Sartre express through existential perception. Hans Jonas points out that his principle of responsibility extends to future generations and nature as a whole, and Albert Camus shows in his interpretation that one must imagine Sisyphus as a happy person. After all, it is the Kantian categorical imperative, as it is recommended as moral and moral thinking and action for people who are able and have the courage to use their own reason. Who should accept this challenge and actively take on the change of perspective? Each and every one of the human family, because each and every one of us always carries with us the present and future responsibility to stand up for a better, more just, more peaceful and humane world [26].

Contact to the author:
Dr. Jos Schnurer
Immelmannstrasse 40
31137 Hildesheim
Tel: (05121) 59124
Email: [email protected]

[1] The book of Nehemiah, The Bible, or all of the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Based on the German translation by Martin Luther, Württembergische Bibelanstalt, Stuttgart 1966, p. 559
[2] loc. Cit., P. 29 (II)
[3] Sura 5/39, Der Gnadenreich Koran (Kur’ân-i Kerîm), original text with German translation (Max Henning / H. Achmed Schmiede, DITIB. Ankara 1991, p. 115
[4] Bukkyō Dendō Kyōkai, The Teaching of Buddhas, Society for the Promotion of Buddhism, Tokyo 2004, 310 pp.
[5] A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, Bhagavad-Gitā - as it is, The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1987, p.590
[6] Phillip Brüllmann, in: Otfried Höffe, Aristoteles-Lexikon, Stuttgart 2005, p. 240f
[7] Frank Adloff, ed., Kultursoziologie, 2014,
[8] Svenja Floßpöhler, excuse me. On dealing with guilt, Munich 2016, 224 pp.
[9] German UNESCO Commission, Human Rights. International documents, Bonn 1981, p. 48
[10] German UNESCO Commission, Our Creative Diversity. Report of the World Commission "Culture and Development" (short version), 2nd, expanded. Edition, Bonn 1997, p. 18
[11] Bernhard Rathmayr, self-compulsion and self-realization. Building blocks for a historical anthropology of occidental people, 2011,; and: Bruno Latour, modes of existence. An Anthropologie der Modernen, 2014,
[12] Franz Josef Wetz, self-esteem rebellion. Against Humiliation, 2014,
[13] Thomas Metzinger, The Ego Tunnel. A new philosophy of the self: From brain research to ethics of consciousness, 2009,
[14] Martin Hartmann, The Practice of Trust, 2011,
[15] Markus Weingardt, ed., Trust in the Crisis. Access to various sciences, 2011,
[16] Ute Frevert, questions of trust. An Obsession of Modernity, 2013,
[17] Christoph Broszies / Henning Hahn, eds., Global Justice. Key texts on the debate between particularism and cosmopolitanism, 2010,
[18] Martha Nussbaum, The New Religious Intolerance. A way out of the politics of fear, 2014,
[19] see also: Wolfgang Welsch, Homo mundanus. Beyond the anthropic way of thinking of modernity, 2012,
[20] Henning Ottmann, et al., Ed., Gelassenheit - And other attempts to negative ethics, 2014,; as well as: Thomas Strässle, serenity. About a different attitude to the world, 2013,
[21] Anton Pelinka, ed., Prejudices. Origins, Forms, Meaning, 2012,
[22] Abraham H. Maslow, Everyone is a mystic. Impulses for the spiritual becoming whole, 2014,
[23] Fritz B. Simon, when right is left and left is right. Paradox Management in Family, Economy and Politics., 2013,
[24] Valentin Beck, A Theory of Global Responsibility. What we owe people in extreme poverty, 2016,
[25] Jörn Müller, et al., Ed., Attention. New human sciences perspectives, 2016,
[26] Bettina von Clausewitz, Who, if not us! Weltverbesserer und lateral thinkers in conversation, 2016,