Is it possible to really give a gift? This may, at first glance, seem like a peripheral question for philosophy, which rmally directs its attention to seemingly bigger questions. The dynamics of the gift move into philosophy from anthropology and sociology, but Jacques Derrida insists that this question belongs at the heart of philosophy. This volume takes up Derrida's challenge to invest in the question of a gift, and the relationship between gift and ecomy. The powerful and corruptive forces of ecomy can wreak havoc on every effort to give or receive a pure gift. Each of the essays investigates some aspect of the gift, and the way ecomics relate to the sheer hospitality and generosity implied in the idea of giving. Is there a blessed ecomy? Must ecomics always operate in a sinister and exploitive fashion? What can be learned by the philosophical investigations related to this concept? There is something about the event or idea of the gift that cant be entirely explained by the machinations of ecomy. In the giving of a gift something happens, if only unpredictably and rarely, that cant be explained by the calculus that tracks the exchange of money, property, goods, debt and power. This excess that confounds the reduction of the gift to the dynamics of power and exchange is a source of creative fascination for a wide range of philosophers, including the collection of scholars who have contributed to this book.
Eric Severson is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Eastern Nazarene College, Massachusetts, USA, as well as Co-Director of The Center for Responsibility and Justice. He is the author of Scandalous Obligation: Rethinking Christian Responsibility as well as the editor of The Least of These and I More than Others: Responses to Evil and Suffering, also from Cambridge Scholars Publishing.