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|Title: Gratitude: An Intellectual History|
By: Peter J. Leithart
Vendor: Baylor University Press
|Publication Date: 2018|
Stock No: WW584501
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 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 gaveand who continues to givegraciously.
Clear and cogent, Gratitude provides an opportunity for faculty and students alike to rethink issues that are both intellectual and practical.
...Leithart is exemplary in his performance of what a kind of Christian-theological account of history of ideas might look like.
Elegantly written, intellectually stimulating, and practically helpful
Peter Leitharts book addresses what he has perceived to be a significant gap in the literature, namely tracing how thinking in the West about gratitude has shifted since first attracting the interest of the Greek and Roman philosophers. His work demonstrates how the emergence of Christianity in particular caused a very sizeable rethink on the subject, a radical redefinition which has been widely influential, and yet not often in all its ramifications.
Creative, Insightful, and Ambitious.
One of the distinct pleasures of a new Leithart book is the opportunity it gives us to watch a smart, unpredictable mind sharing his reactions to the books he's worked through. This new work deepens that pleasure.