Presence of the Gift
Philosophers, social theorists and cultural theorists have generally followed Mauss in assuming that gifts entail obligatory exchanges between distinct parties who give, receive and reciprocate, and, that the social emerges through this sequence of obligations. It is the obligation to reciprocate, for example, that led Derrida to claim that the gift is impossible. We consider the alternative ideas that non-exchange gifts are not only possible but the basis of social life: that the social arises from the nonsequential giving-and-receiving of a gift relation. To develop this claim, we draw on a research project on the phenomenology of teaching. While many interviewees, teachers and students, spoke of the gift in exchange terms, many also spoke of classroom experiences in which there is a giving and receiving that is neither sequential nor locatable. Through the resonances of the concept of presence, we draw out the time, space and ontology of the gift.
exchange; gift; infinitude; presence; relation; simultaneity
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