My opponent has made a few mistakes …,
Well, we may or may not disagree on this point… But since my opponent was kind enough to give me this notice of errors, I will reign in my
I previously stated, “Once the act of giving is exercised, the recipient must, by definition, have a new acquired item of value (or measurable
benefit) which the 'giver' has abandoned to the recipient. This makes the receiver automatically the winner in the exchange, based on the completion
of the act of giving.”
As with any debate, the matter of generalization leads to the possibility of misdirection, since all things are, in fact relative, there will always
be divergent examples which stand outside the parameters of the generalization. For example, TheVagabond points out the net gain for the giver in a
scenario involving the donation of a vehicle to charity yields a higher material gain to the giver in tax-offsets than the value of the donation
itself. My esteemed opponent proceeds to evaluate the existence of this exceptional circumstance as a foundation to state:
So even from a strictly material point of view, it can be better to give than to receive. Thus my opponent is missing the point when he says
I need not debate the mater regarding the benefit of receiving because it is self-evident that the receiver is the net gainer in the
In truth, the receiver is ONE net gainer in material terms, but not necessarily the sole net gainer. Therefore, given the proposition "It is
Better to give..." the question, even if we judge strictly in material terms, is not merely who gains, but who gains the most.
I must however point out that if the act of giving is to be undertaken as a gesture of gain for the giver; the act is not really one of ‘giving,’
is it? If the purpose is to increase the value (material or notional) of the giver, the act itself loses its’ moral high-ground and becomes
self-serving. This is not giving; it is serving one’s own interests and thus does not meet the criteria of giving as a ‘gift.’ The benefit to
the recipient then becomes incidental and of little or even no consequence, i.e. there is no ‘message’ in the gift that can be seen as altruistic
or meaningful as ‘giving’.
Also, if we are to focus on ‘net gain’ as the controlling variable used to render the final evaluation of which is better, giving or receiving, we
are then left to quibble over who values what, and how much. The only way to deal with that would be by an instance-by-instance analysis of the act,
which is a dead end; since everything is relative and all acts thus taken are undeniably unique.
Perhaps we should both avoid the inclusion of the ‘gift’ as a determinant of the ‘giving.’ But I am not sure that would necessarily make this
debate any less difficult.
The giver controls the values on both sides of the transaction and is in a position to make it better to give than to receive. For it to be
materially better to receive, the giver must make it so.
I must disagree with my opponent on this position. The giver, may wish
to control the control the value on both sides of the equation. But
such control is illusory and self-deluded.
This is a point I was hoping to make.
If we are to assume that all gift giving is a form of communication, and that the initiative of the act derives from the giver, we can state that the
giver is on the offensive end of the transaction. The giver approaches the receiver; the giver imbues the gift with intent and meaning, and then must
cover the void between the gift and the intended recipient. This is not a position of strength.
The defensive position of the receiver leaves him or her in total control. The receiver may refuse the gift, or decide upon his or her own, to
‘attribute whatever meaning he or she is inclined to accept. They may receive the gift as an insult, whether so intended or not, or he or she may
decide to be grateful; but in the end, it is the receiver who decides the fate of the gift, and so controls the ultimate meaning it will have, leaving
the giver the only option to attempt to reassert control of the message (gift) which is at that point no longer theirs to give again.
I stand by my statement that we humans are compulsive communicators, seeking to assign meaning to everything we do, or experience; even if the
situation, or event, is simply a base component of reality. As a result, we muddle otherwise easily defined aspects of life with burdens of presumed
consciousness or delusions of morality.
Interestingly, the receiver bears no such burden, unless the psychological, cultural, or social climate imposes it. Without that complicating factor,
receive is inherently the superior position, the remainder of the equation being relegated to the ‘imagined’ or ‘contrived.’
However, even in the environment where the receiver is bound by external conditions, we can clearly see theirs is the true superior position. It is
the recipient who will offer the reaction to the action of giving. While it may be a predictable thank you, or otherwise, the truth is the freedom to
choose what to turn a particular act of giving into is the domain of the recipient. He or she may construe it completely incorrectly, or twist the
intent far beyond the scope or plans of the giver. Giving is an act of open vulnerability in this regard.
The essential giving is a simple matter, oft-times painfully burdened with emotional or social baggage, and less frequently, empty hollow matters of
obligation or ‘proper form.’ Receiving is more like a blank template, scripted by the recipient.
Hence, when I was quoted, saying;
I contend that other considerations are either social, psychological, or cultural constructs which only complicate the act of receiving a
My meaning was in fact contrary to what my opponent perceived:
This is putting the cart before the horse however. This essentially suggests that the act of giving comes first and the motive for doing so
arises afterwards as nothing more than a side-effect.
In its essential form, giving and the motive or intent behind it are two completely separate and distinct aspects of the act. While the giver may
‘wish’ to implant a certain meaning or message in the gift, they are not truly in control of the meaning or message received. The horse and cart
analogy cannot apply to this as my opponent attempts. Simply, from the position of the giver the motive precedes the gift, but the giving does not
end there, the recipient must receive the gift and then
conceptually ‘react’ to the message, making the value of the message (or intent)
the last element of the process.
And now, for your responses to my opening Socratic questions;
Re: 1. No….,
I would consider you luckier than I. My point however, was well circumvented by your response (dang it!). Such was the point that I wished to invoke
that the ‘feedback’ from the ‘input’ of gift giving is not always a wash of equally balanced communicative expression. But don’t expect
this to be the last time I will present that little gem.
Re: 2. Again the answer is no, however, I am going to pretend that the answer is yes because that is more damaging to your case.
Okay, that’s just wrong! You know, you seem to be trying to win this debate. Now I will have to invest more emotional currency in the gifts I send
to the judges… (j/k) :p
Again, the side-stepped point shows an important aspect within the subject. That while giving a gift is a form of communication, it is not always
sincere. In fact, you as the receiver may not even be aware of the attempt to control being thrust upon you. But the power is within you, the
receiver, to rebuff or modify the feedback message, which shows that the recipient is more in control than the giver, since response and evaluation is
the final communication element.
Hypothetically, if your significant other, all of your best friends, and your parents all got together to give you a special Christmas feast, and then
it turned out that they had not set one single item of food on the table that you were not fatally allergic to...
For the sake of simplicity I must answer based upon a choice of scenarios. If I presume my allergies are not known to these people; it is a matter
of ignorance and lack of due diligence in preparation. So to answer:
1. Would you be appreciative or insulted?
I would be appreciative and apologetic for not having made my sensitivities known beforehand. This way I have removed the initiative from the givers,
and thus voided any ill feelings my demise may have caused.
2. What aspect of the situation would be the main cause of your feeling on the matter?
Protecting the ‘givers’ from the emotional burden of potentially killings me.
3. Ever dance with the devil by the pale moon light?
(you don't have to answer that last one, I'm just fond of movie quotes and playing the bad guy)
A Socratic question MUST be answered. Therefore I reluctantly admit, such a dance took place, but I neither inhaled nor enjoyed it (he’s a
smokin’ horny bastard!)
As I am out of space, I will forgo the Socratic questions I had in mind... (lucky you) ... I would like you to consider it a gift!
[edit on 12/15/2008 by semperfortis]