This final installment of the series on the economics of forgiveness takes up from where I left off in Part III, and may pose difficulties for those who have not read it (and as Part IV is to Part III, so is III to II, and II to I).
Our compassionate suffering is the means of our social cohesion. Only by virtue of an imaginative participation in each other’s suffering – which is to say, an attenuated but nonetheless real and concrete participation in each other’s sufferings (both positive and negative) – could we understand each other, so as to communicate or coordinate our activities. If we had absolutely no notion how anybody else felt, we could not understand them at all, nor could we make ourselves understood to them. Society would then be to us wholly incomprehensible, and all our social interactions complete noise. I.e., there would then be no such thing as society, at all.