A Rhetoric and Philosophy of Gifts synthesizes a scope of rhetorical and philosophical perspectives of the gift. Eberhardinger asks “What is the relationship between gifts and rhetoric?” She contextualizes the question throughout a review of related literature, analysis, examples, and personal anecdotes of overseas experiences. Eberhardinger concludes the book by offering implications and opportunities for interpreting gifts, thereby addressing why the question concerning the relationship between gifts and rhetoric matters for the larger landscape of international relations, intercultural friendship, and peace-making. Scholars of communication, rhetoric, and philosophy will find this book particularly interesting.
M. J. Eberhardinger holds a Ph.D. in rhetoric with a focus in philosophy of communication.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Objects as Gift
Chapter 2 Language as Gift
Chapter 3 Life and Death as Gifts
Chapter 4 The Possibility of Gift
Chapter 5 Gifts, Public Diplomacy, and Soft Power
Chapter 6 The Occasions When One Gives
Chapter 7 Towards an Anachronistic Gift
A gift must be freely given and be taken for free. Yet, no gift sets one free from the debt it incurs upon reception. It is from the depth of this bind that Eberhardinger reflects on the rhetoric and philosophy of the gift, gracefully moving rhetorical studies into philosophy of communication’s deep regions. Tantalizingly plausible, this book extends a precious gift to careful readers, who will no doubt extend it ever further in the endless gift-exchange of our thinking and writing.
Mary Eberhardinger’sA Rhetoric and Philosophy of Giftstakes a rhetorical and philosophical approach to explore the gift. Her goal is to arrive at an emergent philosophy of communication of the gift that is relevant to international relations and diplomacy at a time when international relationships are in danger of weakening. Eberhardinger draws on an impressively wide spectrum of philosophical currents, taking the reader on an unexpected tour de force of ideas from different traditions and time periods. Augmentations of the gift by concepts such as credit, acknowledgment, and validation inform her explorations of language, while her chapter on life and death takes a religious perspective. Another chapter examines whether gifts are, in fact, free or whether they always entail responsibility or sacrifice. Her personal experience and affinity with Japanese culture take her to the conclusion that a careful examination of the gift could be the key to a better world.
In this accessible and optimistic treatment of rhetoric and gifting culture, Eberhardinger indicates the possibilities for intercultural “soft power” via the logic of the gift. With a series of brief chapter vignettes ranging from death to diplomacy, from Francis Yates on memorabilia to Thomas Aquinas, Martin Buber, and Roland Barthes on the camera’s recognition, A Rhetoric and Philosophy of Gifts is a thrilling ride. The speed of the discussion through such a wide range of theorists is ultimately warranted in the conclusion where Eberhardinger proposes an “anachronistic gift,” a resource for engagement with alterity beyond the term limits of time.