Cosmic Gratitude

European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 6 (3):65--83 (2014)
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Abstract

Classically, gratitude is a tri-polar construal, logically ordering a benefactor, a benefice, and a beneficiary in a favour-giving-receiving situation. Grammatically, the poles are distinguished and bound together by the prepositions ”to’ and ”for’; so I call this classic concept ”to-for’ gratitude. Classic religious gratitude follows this schema, with God as the benefactor. Such gratitude, when felt, is a religious experience, and a reliable readiness or ”habit’ of such construal is a religious virtue. However, atheists have sometimes felt an urge or need for an analogous experience and virtue of gratitude, and theists sometimes feel intellectual discomfort with classical theistic gratitude on consideration of the misfortunes that characterize our life along with its blessings. In response, another conception of religious gratitude has been attempted, a construal that lacks the to-for structure. This paper probes the significance of the benefactor for gratitude, both secular and religious, and, with Søren Kierkegaard’s help, some features of the theology of classical religious gratitude that dissolve the problem of misfortunes.

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