475: Gift Giving

A Thousand Things to Talk About
475: Gift Giving

What’s your philosophy of gift-giving?

Full episode script

Quoting directly from Charles Champetier’s article Philosophy of the Gift

As a topic of lively political and economic discussions, the gift has certainly not left philosophy indifferent. […] The position of Derrida centres around this paradox” the gift is impossible, it is “the impossible” and it is through this impossibility that the gift lends itself to thought. Why is the gift impossible? Because a true gift would presuppose the total absence of return, of trace and of custody. This is the double bind of the gift. “For there to be gift, it is necessary that the gift not even appear, that is not be perceived or received as gift. The true gift, according to Derrida, is the unconditional gift, the one that is entirely gratuitous, and the gesture of which is not suspended on the condition of some context, or some proximity or family tie, be it general or specific. “


Gift-giving can be seriously complicated — it’s all wrapped up in social context, in personal valuation of… well, just about anything — and it is based heavily in the structure of expectation. Philosophically, there’s a lot to be said on just about every possible side of the discussion. But – like all discussions of philosophy, there’s the intellectual and then there’s the reality. And the reality is that we all put our beliefs, morals, values, and beliefs into practice differently. So I’m really curious how you put that into practice in your own life.

This script may vary from the actual episode transcript.