Friday, March 8, 2013

Pure Forgiveness?

        Is pure forgiveness possible? (By “pure” forgiveness I mean a forgiveness bereft of self-interest.) Can there be a love of another entirely apart from love of self?

        My own view is that “purity” of intent is neither possible nor desirable. Most altruism, upon closer examination, reveals that it is at least in part motivated by self-interest. It can be enlightened self-interest, aware of long-term and/or spiritual consequences; yet somehow this vital grounding for virtue is thought to lessen virtue.

        With equal logic one can denounce a rose for having roots in the filthy dirt. But I, for one, forgive the rose for its dirty roots. In fact I admire the rose’s ability to turn filth into fragrance. My forgiveness of the rose is not entirely un-self-interested, for as a human being, I too have dirty roots.

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