Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
×
Home

Can non-theists appropriately feel existential gratitude?

  • MICHAEL LACEWING (a1)

Abstract

Does it make sense for non-theists to feel gratitude for their existence? The question arises because gratitude is typically thought to be directed towards a person to whom one is grateful. Hence the theist may be grateful to God for their existence, experienced as a gift. But can the non-believer feel something similar without being irrational? Can there be gratitude for existence but not to anyone? After analysing gratitude and how we can best understand the idea of non-directed gratitude, I discuss the conditions that need to apply for non-directed gratitude to be appropriate. I end by discussing whether theism provides a psychologically richer and more satisfying framework for understanding existential gratitude.

Copyright

References

Hide All
Badhwar, Neera K. (2008) ‘Is realism bad for you? A realistic response’, Journal of Philosophy, 105, 85107.
Bertocci, P. A. & Millard, R. M. (1963) Personality and the Good (New York: David McKay Company, Inc.).
Bishop, John (2010) ‘Secular spirituality and the logic of giving thanks’, Sophia, 49, 523534.
Blackburn, Simon (1998) Ruling Passions (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
Colledge, Richard J. (2013) ‘Secular spirituality and the hermeneutics of ontological gratitude’, Sophia 52, 2743.
Cottingham, John (2003) On the Meaning of Life (London: Routledge).
Cottingham, John (2006) ‘What difference does it make? The nature and significance of theistic belief’, Ratio 19, 401420.
Cramer, Phoebe (2006) Protecting the Self (New York: Guilford Press).
Damasio, Antonio (2000) The Feeling of What Happens (London: Heinemann).
Damasio, Antonio (2010) Self Comes to Mind (London: Heinemann).
Dawkins, Richard (2010) ‘The greatest show on earth’, Lecture delivered at University of Auckland, 13 March 2010. Available at https://www.alumni.auckland.ac.nz/uoa/home/alumni/photo-galleries-and-video/public-lectures/richarddawkinsthegreatestshowonearthlive/richarddawkinsthegreatestshowonearthlive-1.
Dreyfus, Hubert, & Kelly, Sean Dorrance (2011) All Things Shining (New York: Free Press).
Emmons, Robert A. (2004) ‘The psychology of gratitude: an introduction’, in Emmons, Robert A. & McCullough, Michael E. (eds) The Psychology of Gratitude (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 316.
Fitzgerald, Patrick (1998) ‘Gratitude and justice’, Ethics, 109, 119153.
Fredrickson, Barbara L. (2004) ‘Gratitude, like other positive emotions, broadens and builds’, in Emmons, Robert A. & McCullough, Michael E. (eds) The Psychology of Gratitude (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 145166.
Goldie, Peter (2008) ‘Misleading emotions’, in Brun, Georg, Doguoglu, Ulvi, & Kuenzle, Dominique (eds) Epistemology and Emotions (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing), 149166.
Harpham, Edward J. (2004) ‘Gratitude in the History of Ideas’, in Emmons, Robert A. & McCullough, Michael E. (eds) The Psychology of Gratitude (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 1936.
Haidt, Jonathan, & Kesebir, Selin (2010) ‘Morality’, in Fiske, Susan T., Gilbert, Daniel T., & Lindzey, Gardner (eds) Handbook of Social Psychology, 5th edn (New York: McGraw-Hill), 797832.
Heider, Fritz (1958) The Psychology of Interpersonal Relations (Hillsdale NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum).
Klein, Melanie (1957) Envy and Gratitude (London: Tavistock Publications).
Komter, Aafke Elisabeth (2004) ‘Gratitude and gift exchange’, in Emmons, Robert A. & McCullough, Michael E. (eds) The Psychology of Gratitude (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 195212.
Lacewing, Michael (2014) ‘Emotions and the virtues of self-understanding’, in Roeser, Sabine & Todd, Cain (eds) Emotion and Value (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 199211.
Lear, Jonathan (1990) Love and its Place in Nature (Cambridge MA: Yale University Press).
Lenman, James (2008) ‘Expressivism and epistemology: what is moral inquiry?’, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volume, 81, 6381.
Lerner, Jennifer S. & Tetlock, Philip E. (2003) ‘Bridging individual, interpersonal, and institutional approaches to judgment and decision making: the impact of accountability on cognitive bias’, in Schneider, Sandra L. & Shanteau, James (eds) Emerging Perspectives on Judgment and Decision Research (New York: Cambridge University Press), 431457.
McConnell, Terrance (1993) Gratitude (Philadelphia PA: Temple University Press).
Mercier, Hugo & Sperber, Dan (2011) ‘Why do humans reason? Arguments for an argumentative theory’, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 34, 57111.
Mill, John Stuart (1838) ‘Essay on Bentham’, in Stuart Mill, John, Utilitarianism and On Liberty, ed. Warnock, Mary (London: Fount Paperbacks, 1979 [1893]), 78125.
Nakhnikian, George (1961) ‘On the cognitive import of certain conscious states’, in Hook, Sidney (ed.), Religious Experience and Truth (New York: New York University Press), 156164.
Roberts, R. C. (2004) ‘The blessings of gratitude: a conceptual analysis’, in Emmons, Robert A. & McCullough, Michael E. (eds) The Psychology of Gratitude (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 5880.
Roth, Priscilla & Lemma, Alessandra (2008) Envy and Gratitude Revisited (London: Karnac).
Saarinen, Jussi (2012) ‘The oceanic state: a conceptual elucidation in terms of modal contact’, The International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 93, 939961.
Scanlon, Thomas (1998) What We Owe To Each Other (Cambridge MA: Belknap Press).
Seligman, Martin E. P. & Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (2000) ‘Positive psychology: an introduction’, American Psychologist, 55, 514.
Solomon, Robert C. (2002) Spirituality for the Skeptic (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
Solomon, Robert C. (2004) ‘Forward’, in Emmons, Robert A. & McCullough, Michael E. (eds) The Psychology of Gratitude (Oxford: Oxford University Press), vxiv.
Solomon, Robert C. (2007) True to Our Feelings (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
Steindl-Rast, David (2004) ‘Gratitude as thankfulness and as gratefulness’, in Emmons, Robert A. & McCullough, Michael E. (eds) The Psychology of Gratitude (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 282290.
Streng, Frederick J. (1989) ‘Introduction: thanksgiving as a worldwide response to life’, in Carman, John B. & Streng, Frederick J. (eds) Spoken and Unspoken Thanks (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Centre for the Study of World Religions).
Taylor, Shelley & Brown, Jonathon (1988) ‘Illusion and well-being: a social psychological perspective on mental health’, Psychological Bulletin, 103, 193210.
Taylor, ShelleyBrown, Jonathon (1994) ‘Positive illusions and well-being revisited: separating fact from fiction’, Psychological Bulletin, 116, 2127.
Vaillant, George E. (1993) The Wisdom of the Ego (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press).
Von Tevenar, Gudrun (2006) ‘Gratitude, reciprocity, and need’, American Philosophical Quarterly, 43, 181188.
Watkins, Philip C. (2004) ‘Gratitude and subjective well-being’, in Emmons, Robert A. & McCullough, Michael E. (eds) The Psychology of Gratitude (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 167194.
Weil, Simone (1956/2003) The Notebooks of Simone Weil (London: Routledge).
Wiles, Maurice (1986) God's Action in the World (London: SCM Press).
Wiggins, David (1987) Needs, Values, Truth (Oxford: Blackwell).
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Religious Studies
  • ISSN: 0034-4125
  • EISSN: 1469-901X
  • URL: /core/journals/religious-studies
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed