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Resentment's Virtue: Jean Amery and the Refusal to Forgive (Politics, History, & Social Change) [Hardcover]

Thomas Brudholm , John C. Torpey

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Book Description

15 Feb 2008 Politics, History, & Social Change
Most current talk of forgiveness and reconciliation in the wake of collective violence proceeds from an assumption that forgiveness is always admirable and superior to resentment and resistance to reconciliation. Victims who demonstrate a willingness and ability to forgive and "look to the future" are often celebrated as moral models of magnanimity and generosity, while those who refuse to forgive and let go of their resentment are often taken to be in the grips of a regrettable pathological, or degrading state, and suffering from an excess of vindictiveness. Resentment is often only seen as the negative state to be overcome, the irrational, immoral; the unhealthy attitudes of victims who are not "ready" or "capable" of forgiving and healing.Arguing beyond hasty dichotomies and unexamined moral assumptions, "Resentment's Virtue" offers a more nuanced approach to an understanding of the reasons why survivors of mass atrocities sometimes harbour resentment and refuse to forgive. Building on a close examination of the writings of Holocaust-survivor Jean Amery, Brudholm argues that the preservation of resentment or the resistance to calls for forgiveness can be the reflex of a moral protest and ambition that might be as permissible, humane or honourable as the willingness to forgive.

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"Resentment's Virtue represents an important counterpoint to the privileged status accorded to the logic of forgiveness in the transitional justice and reparations literatures. Brudholm illustrates nicely that 'negative emotions' are not only understandable in the aftermath of mass atrocity, but that they possess a moral component that is often ignored by the boosters of reconciliation." Andrew Woolford, co-author of Informal Reckonings: Conflict Resolution in Mediation, Restorative Justice and Reparations "Brudholm provides a view that is likely to be controversial, namely, that resentment can be just as much of an acceptable outcome to collective violence...Brudholm makes the case that resentment might be just as permissible as the tendency to forgive." Contemporary Sociology "Every now and then a book is published that makes you think - and rethink - the position you have on a specific issue. Danish philosopher Thomas Brudholm's Resentment's Virtue ranks among the candidates for becoming one of those books for theologians and philosophers of religion...It states its case clear and with a consistent and sufficient backing: it makes clear to the reader that to forgive others for atrocities and crimes might have severe consequences, and that it might even be in the interest of morality to refuse to forgive...Brudholm's book will be regarded as an important contribution" --Ars Disputandi

"[Brudholm's] analysis cuts across disciplines in order to bring to the surface discourses on forgiveness and resentment shared by law, ethics and psychology, and bring these into contact with victim testimony and Jean Améry's writings, which offer the position of both testimony and critical reflection.... This is a timely book which has much to offer on the current scholarly debate on forgiveness." --Holocaust Studies, Summer 2009

"A persuasive and compelling account that urges readers not simply to assume or to presume that forgiveness is the obvious best course." --International Journal of Transitional Justice

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