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2007 | 2(17) | 245-255

Article title

Ontology of Reconciliation


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In this article, the author discusses the moral and ontological conditions of authentic and sustainable reconciliation regarding persons and groups divided by some past wrong. He draws a distinction between genuine reconciliation and mere agreement about the parties' common future. Reconciliation has to contribute to the future but it is equally important that it is convincingly linked to the wrong that calls for reconciliation in the first place. Reconciliation should follow from the act of forgiveness. Disclosing the truth about the past evil is a prerequisite of forgiveness. This, however, creates a practical paradox. The deeper is the awareness of wrong the more authentic is the reconciliation. But the acute awareness of wrong makes reconciliation very hard to achieve. The challenge made by this paradox can be met, though. He discusses three conditions of morally satisfying reconciliation: (1) Reconciliation should be a result of forgiveness that is not given in a single act but in a continuous and determined effort to forgive. Forgiveness needs repetition as it is never complete. (2) Since forgiveness is a long term process and always at risk of moral inauthenticity and self-deception, reconciliation must be based on self-ironical consciousness; our actions are shadowed by a possible moral failure. (3) The value of possible reconciliation outweighs the probability of its being futile. Therefore the recommended self-irony must be counterbalanced by courageous determination to act against the moral odds in hope that it is exactly this action that increases the probability of morally satisfying reconciliation.


  • R. Pilat, Instytut Filozofii i Socjologii PAN, ul. Nowy Swiat 72, 00-330 Warszawa, Poland


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