The Practice of Altruism: Caring and Religion in Global Perspective
Cambridge Scholars Press, 2006 - 209 pages
The study of altruism and altruistic behavior has caught the attention of social scientists especially in recent years. What motivates individuals to cultivate attitudes and actions that promote the wellbeing of others at the expense of, or at the risk of negative consequences for their own?
In our contemporary global society marked by conflict and violence among different sectors of the population in various regions of the world, and wherein religion can be a factor that exacerbates such conflict and violence, harnessing the power of religion towards directions of reconciliation, creativity, and altruistic action, remains a crucial task for humankind.
This volume addresses a question especially relevant in our day: do people who profess religious commitment or affiliation in a particular religious community tend to nurture altruistic kinds of attitude and action more than others? Social scientists present results of their empirical studies on Japanese society, as well as on North American, European, Indian, and Thai societies, to focus on this issue and offer insightful reflections on the relationship between religion and society.
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The example of Mr . Kravinsky ' s donation does not seem to fit with Mauss '
model of the gift inspiring reciprocal social obligation . Scholarship on giving in
India has also challenged Mauss ' assumption of the reciprocal nature of giving .
Here , we must acknowledge the difference between Mauss ' gift and the idea of
a receipt . Mauss ' gift elicits social obligation along with an expected return of
equal or greater value . A receipt , on the other hand , is proof that a donation has
Derrida , on the other hand , went so far as to demolish the category of the gift ,
and argue that once a gift is identified as a gift , it can no longer be a gift . Instead
, gifts must be radically forgotten , annulled , before they are gifts . This may
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