We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE
OR

Gratitude

An Intellectual History

Peter J. Leithart

Publication Year: 2014

Gratitude is often understood as etiquette rather than ethics, an emotion rather than politics. It was not always so. From Seneca to Shakespeare, gratitude was a public virtue. The circle of benefaction and return of service worked to make society strong. But at the beginning of the modern era, European thinkers began to imagine a political economy freed from the burdens of gratitude. Though this rethinking was part of a larger process of secularization, it was also a distorted byproduct of an impulse ultimately rooted in the teachings of Jesus and the apostle Paul. Christians believed that God stood at the center of the circle of gratitude. God was the object of thanksgiving and God gave graciously. Thus, Christians taught that grace cancelled the oppressive debts of a purely political gratitude. Gratitude: An Intellectual History,/i> examines changing conceptions of gratitude from Homer to the present. In so doing, Peter J. Leithart highlights the profound cultural impact of early Christian “ingratitude,” the release of humankind from the bonds of social and political reciprocity by a benevolent God who gave—and who continues to give—graciously.

Published by: Baylor University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

pdf iconDownload PDF (72.9 KB)
 

Contents

pdf iconDownload PDF (57.9 KB)
pp. viii-

read more

Acknowledgments

pdf iconDownload PDF (58.9 KB)
pp. ix-x

I received assistance from many people on this project. Donny Linnemeyer was an indispensable assistant in researching the crucial thinkers of the early modern period and the Enlightenment. Ryan Handerman provided me with a translation of the entry on gratitudo from Johannes de Bromyard’s Summa Praedicantium. Gary Glenn shared his work on Locke, Joan Tronto provided...

read more

Introduction: Of Circles, Lines, and Soup Tureens

pdf iconDownload PDF (121.1 KB)
pp. 1-16

So far as I can reconstruct it, this book originated in frustrations with indexes, Google, and Amazon.com. For a decade or more, I have been intrigued by the way the concept of “the gift” has spread from cultural anthropology into philosophy and theology. I share the enthusiasm for this category...

Part I: Circles

read more

One: Circles of Honor

pdf iconDownload PDF (168.2 KB)
pp. 19-40

Reciprocity was written into the language of archaic Greece. Ancient Greeks had no specific word for “thanks” or “gratitude,” and the word “grace” (charis, pl. charites) did double duty, naming both a gift and response. Charis means “pleasure” or “favor” and then, also, anything that brought pleasure...

read more

Two: Benefits and Good Offices

pdf iconDownload PDF (133.6 KB)
pp. 41-56

Romans were unique in antiquity. In no other society were the ruling classes so thoroughly bound together by beneficia and gratia, by gifts and reciprocal gratitude. In no other society did the unequal relationships between benefactors and their beneficiaries, patrons and their clients, play such a...

read more

Three: Ingrates and the Infinite Circle

pdf iconDownload PDF (167.1 KB)
pp. 57-78

Christians exasperated Romans. They were sacrilegious atheists who defied the Roman gods. Bringing a new religion into the empire was well and good, for tolerant religious diversity was the genius of the empire. But proclaiming a god so large and jealous that he displaced all others was intolerable. Symmachus...

read more

Four: Patron Saints and the Poor

pdf iconDownload PDF (129.4 KB)
pp. 79-96

The fourth-century Christian writer Lactantius has been called the “Christian Cicero.” That epithet is testament to his still-classical Latin style, but he deserves the title for his substantive contributions as well, for in a brief section of his Divine Institutes, he offers a Christian reformulation of the...

Part II: Disruptions

read more

Five: Monster Ingratitude

pdf iconDownload PDF (141.8 KB)
pp. 99-120

From its earliest emergence and throughout the Middle Ages, the Christian church’s central religious rite was the Eucharist, a thanksgiving offering and meal, which became known as the Mass (from the dismissal at the end of the Latin mass, ite missa est). Medieval Christians viewed it as a gift exchange...

read more

Six: The Circle and the Line

pdf iconDownload PDF (159.2 KB)
pp. 121-142

The revolutionary changes in European society, politics, and church during the sixteenth century produced a “crisis in the economy of obligation.”1 Christians were divided on what they could expect from the Eucharist, or from the alms they offered. Neighboring towns no longer shared a common...

read more

Seven: Methodological Ingratitude

pdf iconDownload PDF (128.0 KB)
pp. 143-160

“She certainly did not hate him. No, hatred had vanished long ago.” In its place was something more than respect, something beyond esteem. “It was gratitude.—Gratitude, not merely for having once loved her, but for loving her well enough to forgive all the petulance and acrimony of her manner in...

Part III: Reciprocity Rediscovered,Reciprocity Suspected

read more

Eight: Primitive Circles

pdf iconDownload PDF (143.8 KB)
pp. 163-180

In the beginning there was Boas. Then there was Thurnwald. Then there was Malinowski. And in the last days there came one named Mauss to proclaim the good news of the gift, which descended from exotic Polynesia and Melanesia to the decadent capitalist West. For centuries, Europeans and Americans had encountered “primitive"...

read more

Nine: Denken ist Danken

pdf iconDownload PDF (134.3 KB)
pp. 181-194

Anthropologists were not the only moderns to turn their attention back to the gift tradition of the West. In both Continental and Anglo-American philosophy, the past century has seen a comparatively small burst of interest in the topic.1 Among philosophers working in the “analytical” tradition...

read more

Ten: Gifts Without Gratitude

pdf iconDownload PDF (143.4 KB)
pp. 195-216

Mauss’ rediscovery of reciprocity challenged post-Enlightenment ethics and philosophy from various directions. Kantian ethics had advocated about disinterested good will, and benevolence especially had to be disinterested. If benevolence aimed at winning some reward from the beneficiary, it was no...

read more

Conclusion: A Theistic Modernity

pdf iconDownload PDF (106.4 KB)
pp. 217-230

What a long, strange trip it’s been, and it will be helpful to summarize at this point by returning to the illustration I offered in the introduction. Grandma has given you an ugly and useless soup tureen as a wedding gift. Should you put it away in a closet? Should you use it to feed the cat? Should you...

Notes

pdf iconDownload PDF (537.5 KB)
pp. 231-300

Bibliography

pdf iconDownload PDF (192.8 KB)
pp. 301-330

Scripture Index

pdf iconDownload PDF (65.1 KB)
pp. 331-333

Index of Authors

pdf iconDownload PDF (64.1 KB)
pp. 334-336

Subject Index

pdf iconDownload PDF (77.8 KB)
pp. 336-340


E-ISBN-13: 9781602584518
E-ISBN-10: 1602584516
Print-ISBN-13: 9781602584495
Print-ISBN-10: 1602584494

Page Count: 350
Publication Year: 2014