On Not Forgetting

I am seriously tempted to repost at least half of Hank’s posts since they’re so frequently so perfectly worded. Earlier tonight I excerpted from Stephanie’s eloquent case for forgetting. Here, for contrast, is Hank explaining the logic of “never forgetting”:

Have you ever been stabbed in the back? By which I mean, really betrayed by someone you trusted?

You feel hurt at first, but afterward angry. The level of trust betrayed probably defines the level of anger.

You get into a business deal with friends, and you later discover they’ve not only fucked you over royally, they intended to fuck you over from the beginning. Or you’re married and you find out your husband is boinking another woman. Worse, he picked up a disease from her, and has now given it to you. Unbelievably worse, that other woman was your own sister.

Yeah, like that. In either case, you’d be SERIOUSLY pissed.

I know how forgiveness works, and I agree it should be very high on the list of social tools we all carry around in our heads. Forgiveness speaks of the future, whereas a grudge leaves you nailed to the past. The good thing about forgiveness is that it sets you-the-victim free from the poison of the situation.

But …

Some betrayals are so large, I don’t know if they should be forgiven. Some betrayals are so large, not just to you but to others, that to forgive them is to commit a second betrayal. You can’t help but carry on indefinitely with the memory of what happened.

He continues, with his memories of the 9/11, his take on the aftermath, and the other tragedy besides the attacks of 9/11 that he has not forgotten.

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • lslerner

    There is a wide spectrum of views on the desirability or undesirability of revenge. From Poe’s Cask of Amontillado we have “Nemo me impune lascessit” and from French sources (I don’t remember exactly where) “la vengeance se mange très-bien froide,” implying that one should take one’s good time about extracting it.
    On the other hand, we frequently see views that vengeance is as damaging to its taker as to its victim. I suppose it all depends on the specific circumstances and thus provides a rich field for philosophical speculation.


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