Does anyone have a working definition of "forgiveness"? Given that definition, do you find it to be a useful thing to do?

Deciding to stop "punishing" behavior (which usually isn't much fun for either of you, though the urge to punish is ingrained). It's certainly a useful thing to be able to do.

0metastable7ySo, I do, and it's informed by religion, but I'll try to phrase it as LW-friendly as possible: to free somebody else of claims I have against them. It's not an emotional state I enter or something self-centered (the "I refuse to ruminate about what you did to me" pop song thing), though sometimes it produces the same effects. The psychological benefits are secondary, even though they're very strong for me. I usually feel much more free and much more peaceful when I've forgiven someone, but forgiveness causes my state of mind, not vice versa. It's like exercise: you did it and it was good even if you didn't get your runner's high. Other useful aspects, from the most blandly general perspective: it's allowed me to salvage relationships, and it's increased the well-being of people I've forgiven. I've been the beneficiary of forgiveness from others, and it's increased my subjective well-being enormously. From a very specific, personal perspective: every time I experience or give forgiveness, it reminds me of divine forgiveness, and that reminder makes me happier.
1wedrifid7yWhat the (emotional) decision to refrain from further vengeance (often) feels like from the inside. Sometimes. Certainly not all the time. Tit-for-tat with a small amount of forgiveness often performs well. Note that tit-for-tat (the part where the other defects and then cooperates you then proceed to cooperate) also sometimes counts as 'forgiviness' in common usage. Like many cases where game theory and instinctive emotional adaptions intended to handle some common games (like what feels like 'blackmail') the edges between the concepts are blurry.

Open thread, August 12-18, 2013

by David_Gerard 1 min read12th Aug 2013125 comments


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