Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

Ressentiment as Suffering: On Transitional Justice and the Impossibility of Forgiveness

By Panu Minkkinen


This essay examines the politics of transitional justice through the notion of forgiveness. Conventional notions of forgiveness and justice, as they have been adopted for and utilized in the numerous truth commissions around the world as well as in the theories supporting the work of the commissions, corrupt the transitional process into what Derrida aptly calls the conditional forgiveness of "social therapy." One major shortcoming in these theories has been their inability to adequately deal with the issue of resentment, i.e., the victim who refuses to forgive. Through a closer investigation into the phenomenology of ressentiment (Nietzsche, Max Scheler, Jean Améry), the essay proposes to interpret resentment as a continuation of the suffering that the victim has originally endured. Juridified and subjected to the therapeutic rationalizations of truth commissions, resentment coagulates into a suffering with a utilitarian value. Finally, this essay discusses the possible ways in which a theory of transitional justice could appropriately address the victim's resentment thus rendering his suffering "just" and making unconditional forgiveness possible.Peer-reviewedPublisher Versio

Publisher: The Cardozo School of Law of Yeshiva University
Year: 2007
DOI identifier: 10.1525/lal.2007.19.3.513
OAI identifier:

Suggested articles


  1. (2007). 3:18 PM This content downloaded from on Tue,
  2. (2007). Le rapport du troisième genre. Homme sans horizon,” in Maurice Blanchot, L’entretien infini (Paris: Gallimard, ), – at . See also Lars Iyer, “The Unbearable Trauma and Witnessing

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.