Penn State to host 'Forgiveness and the Unforgivable' conference Oct. 3-4

David Price
October 02, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State’s Rock Ethics Institute and Department of Philosophy will host the “Forgiveness and the Unforgivable" conference at University Park Oct. 3–4.

Man holding forgiveness sign

Penn State will host a conference, "Forgiveness and the Unforgivable," from Oct. 3 to 4, 2019.

IMAGE: Felix Koutchinski, Unsplash

The two-day conference will bring together philosophers, literary scholars and religious thinkers from a range of traditions and theoretical approaches, according to Nicolas de Warren, associate professor of philosophy in Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts and co-convener of the conference.

“The aim of the conference is to explore the complexity of reconciliation, reparation and restoration in the face of events, such as moral atrocity, genocide and the destruction of sustained potential for life, which are judged to be unforgivable,” said de Warren.

Eight speakers from around the world will engage a range of subject matter to expand the scope of reflection on the "unforgivable," including the devastation of the planet; the semantics and practice of forgiveness in non-Western cultures; the possibility of asking forgiveness for the future; third-party forgiveness and apology; whether the dead can be forgiven; and the question: Can one forgive in the name of the dead?

The two keynote lectures, open to the public, will be presented by Ashraf H.A. Rushdy and Kazim Ali.

Rushdy will speak at 5:15 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 3, presenting a lecture titled “The Seeds of the Sunflower.”  Ali will speak at 5:15 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 4, presenting a lecture titled “No Mad Home: Considering the Indigenous in North American Creative and Critical Endeavor.” Both keynotes will be presented in Foster Auditorium in Paterno Library.

Rushdy, professor of African American Studies at Wesleyan University, has published work on the representation of slavery in African American culture and politics, as well as the history of lynching in American culture. He also has written on the practice of political apologies, and his most recent work is an exploration of the philosophical concepts of resentment and forgiveness.

Kazim Ali is professor of transnational prose and politics at the University of California San Diego. Born in the United Kingdom to Muslim parents of Indian, Iranian and Egyptian descent, Ali’s books encompass several volumes of poetry, including "Sky Ward," winner of the Ohioana Book Award in Poetry. His novels include the recently published “The Secret Room: A String Quartet.”

All conference lectures are free and open to the public. Additional lectures, presented in the Garden Room of the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center, include:

Thursday, Oct. 3

10 a.m., “Shame, Forgiveness and the Future”

  • Basil Vassilicos, lecturer in philosophy, Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick

1:30 p.m., “Forgiveness and Historic Injustice”

  • Simone Gubler, teaching assistant professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

3:15 p.m., “In the Beginning, Forgiveness”

  • Nicolas de Warren, associate professor of philosophy, Penn State University Park

Friday, Oct. 4

10 a.m., “Collaborative Repair: Storytelling, Enslavement, and Environmental Justice”

  • Janet Fiskio, associate professor of environmental studies and comparative American studies, Oberlin College

1:30 p.m., “Deconstructing the Gift, Recasting Forgiveness”

  • Joseph Cohen, associate professor of philosophy, University College Dublin
  • Raphael Zagury-Orly, Invited Professor of Philosophy, Sciences Po – Paris

The “Forgiveness and the Unforgiveable" conference is sponsored by Penn State’s Department of Philosophy; Max Kade German-American Research Institute; Humanities Institute; Department of French and Francophone Studies; University Libraries; and Harold K. Schilling Memorial Lecture on Science, Technology and Society in the Rock Ethics Institute.

Last Updated October 07, 2019