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The Art of Gratitude

Explores how the emotional experience of gratitude has been enlisted in neoliberal governance through the language of debt. In The Art of Gratitude, Jeremy David Engels sketches a genealogy of gratitude from the ancient Greeks to the contemporary self-help movement. One of the most striking things about gratitude, Engels finds, is how consistently it is described using the language of indebtedness. A chief purpose of this, he contends, is to make us more comfortable living lives in debt, with the nefarious effect of pacifying the citizenry so we are less likely to speak out about social and economic injustice. To counteract this, he proposes an alternative art of gratitude-as-thanksgiving that is inspired by Indian philosophy, particularly the yoga philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita and Patanjali’s Yoga-Sutras. He argues that this art of gratitude can challenge neoliberalism by reorienting our politics away from resentment, anger, and guilt and toward a democratic ethic of thanksgiving and the common good.
5/1/18
Engles, J. D. (2018). The art of attitude. SUNY Press.
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