What does it mean to ask someone for forgiveness? Jesus said: “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). This request, by yoking together forgiveness and ignorance, seems to contradict a necessary condition for forgiveness, namely, that the person to be forgiven is responsible for their action. Take, for example, Hamlet’s request that Laertes forgive him the murder of his mother: “Give me your pardon, sir. I have done you a wrong, but pardon ‘t as you are a gentlemen” (5.2.224-5). Hamlet seems to know he has committed a wrong and this knowledge commits him to three propositions: (1) Hamlet murdered Laertes’ father; (2) murder is wrong; and (3) Hamlet is responsible. We would think that these three propositions must be represented as true by both Hamlet and Laertes if an act of forgiveness is to take place. But can one be responsible if one knows not what one does? Friedrich Nietzsche doesn’t think so:
“Whether or not we are able to forgive: How can one forgive them at all, if they know not what they do! One has nothing whatever to forgive. But does a man ever know completely what he does? And if this must at least remain questionable, then men never do having anything to forgive one another and pardoning is to the most rational man a thing impossible. Finally: if the ill-doers really did know what they did – we would have the right to forgive them only if we had the right to accuse and punish them. But this we do not have.” 
This aphorism by Friedrich Nietzsche makes a tremendous claim: complete knowledge, rather than ignorance, is a necessary condition for asking and granting forgiveness. It is indeed hard to see how we can ever have such knowledge. So should we drop forgiveness? Or is there a way to make sense of Jesus’ request and have forgiveness even without knowledge? Perhaps there is a way between these extremes in which forgiveness would be a matter of some knowledge and some ignorance? What would this approach entail?
 Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human. Translated by R. J. Hollingdale (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), p. 326.