In the spring of 2020, the world was at the mercy of the spread of the new coronavirus, and the demand for refraining from going out in Japan continues. It seems that everybody realizes the importance of people who struggle to support this society every day because they have lost the life to go to the places they want to go and meet the people they want to meet. Of course, that is largely due to capitalist "compensation for labor", but it should also include dedication that cannot be explained by itself.
The reason why such dedication and human connections occur is difficult to grasp in the frame of capitalism. For example, everyone may have experienced a special value for the gift they received. However, it is difficult to explain its value well with only the measure of money.
The author says that when we refer to "things that cannot be bought with money" as "gifts" for the time being, it has a very different property from "exchange" such as buying and selling goods. While everyone in the world is looking for an after-corona image of society, I believe that the concept of "gift" can be used to understand the important implications of the future of modern society from this book.
It is said that gifts do not deny the market economy, but rather require it. I would like you to read this book to understand why it is. This is a valuable book that shakes our values.
Main points of this book
Things that are very important but cannot be bought with money, such as the meaning of life, the worth of work, and connections with important people, can be obtained only by giving gifts from others.
Gifts should not be perceived as gifts. If you notice it, it will be an "exchange" like buying and selling a product.
Unlike exchange, gifts are not completed instantly. For the sender, it will be completed in the future tense, "I hope it will arrive," and for the recipient, it will be completed in the past tense, "already received."
The sender of a gift is not just a gift. Through the act of giving to others, on the contrary, they receive various things.
The true identity of "things that money cannot buy"
Why is the gift given to me worth it?
In this book, things that cannot be bought with money, such as relationships of mutual trust and mutual help, and their movement are called "gifts" for the time being. However, the definition of "things that cannot be bought for money" makes no sense of what they are. How can I get what I can't buy with money? Where do you come from?
The most obvious example of a gift is a gift. Why is it customary to give each other things? The reason is that the moment something is given to someone, the product is no longer just a product, and I feel that something special is added to the value of the product. So we can only get what is really important by being gifted by others.
Human beings who can only live in gifts
Why do we humans cooperate and help each other? Why can't I live alone?
It begins with the fact that mankind is born in a very immature state. Mothers with infants have been unable to collect food on their own for several years, and had to help people around them to raise their children. In other words, human beings have been destined to live on the premise of "gifts from others" and "gifts to others" from the dawn.
Give and take limits
In the business context, if you want someone to do something, you have to give them a price. But there's no trust in the give-and-take world of "help me, and what do you do for me?" There, others are nothing but means. Turning it inside out, trust only comes from gifts.
In the world of give and take, that is, capitalism in which the logic of exchange is thorough, you must continue to buy products without taking a break until the moment you die. It's a world where you can't shout "help", even if you've lost everything. We have called "freedom" such a state that we cannot rely on anyone and cannot be trusted by anyone.
Donor, Santa Claus
When a gift becomes a "curse"
A connection that is not a give and take relationship is essentially a gifted connection. We are unknowingly connected to others through gifts. However, the power of gifts is also a "curse" that binds oneself to another. It is a paradoxical situation in which one seeks a connection with someone, but at the same time he is exhausted from that connection.
Why is such a situation born? This is because "a gift should not be known as a gift." Once known as a gift, the recipient will be obliged to return, and will simply be an exchange. If the recipient doesn't have anything to exchange, the obligation of reciprocation is only a curse that crushes the recipient.
On the other hand, gifts that go unnoticed for a long time do not end up as gifts. You need to be aware that "that was a gift" at some point in the future, not when you donated it.
16:00 wandering and Santa Claus
A man was caring for a mother with dementia. At 16 o'clock, the mother tries to wander outside and resists desperately to stop.
When the man in distress consulted a veteran caregiver, he noticed that 16 o'clock was decades ago when he was back in the kindergarten bus. The wandering was the act of picking up a son, a man. Through the irrational behavior of a wandering man, a man could find it a gift.
Even in the midst of the exchange logic of the market economy, there is a world-famous person who is a giftless person. It is Santa Claus. Santa Claus never receives the hospitality or rewards from the children who gave the presents, and leaves without showing up. Only after a long time did the children realize that the gift was a gift from their parents.
In other words, a gift is a gift completed in the future for the sender and completed in the past for the recipient. In other words, a gift requires ethics to pray to the sender that it should arrive, and the recipient must have the imagination and intelligence to realize that he has already received it.
Meaning is not in the heart
The above-mentioned “wandering at 16:00” is just a troublesome act if you do not understand the intention of the act. However, if you realize that "a mother lives alone when she is raising children," the meaning will be completely different.
Words have no meaning in themselves. In communication with other people, meaning is born by what kind of life activity is used in connection with it. Such characteristic of words was named "language game" by the philosopher Wittgenstein who represents the 20th century. Words are not closed in our hearts, but are inseparable from the actions and behaviors of our lives. It can be said that all our lives are locked in a language game.
In other words, when you think you can't understand the feelings and behaviors of others, we aren't in the person's language game and we don't see the rules of the game. Therefore, what we need to do to understand others is to participate in the language game and make it together.
Centripetal and deviant thinking
Find anomalies with "centripetal thinking"
Donors of gifts should not give their names. However, some "trace" remains there. More specifically, the trace is presented to the recipient as an "anomaly."
Anomalies are things that can't be explained well in the light of common sense, and are the concepts presented by science historian Kuhn as a set with the "paradigm." Many of you may be familiar with the term "paradigm shift," which is typified by the conversion from the Ptolemaic theory to the Copernican theory. "This is because the paradigm that has been built is so accurate that it stands out from anomalies that are not in line with common sense of the paradigm," Kuhn claimed. In other words, in order to notice anomalies, a scaffolding of rationality and common sense is necessary.
The idea of trying to explain new things based on common sense is called "centripetal thinking." This way of thinking is also very important for recognizing gifts.
Re-encounter the world with deviant thinking
Many of the wisdom and efforts of many people create and maintain the "naturally occurring" goods and services that we usually see. But ironically, when we notice something is "absent," it is hard to notice something "is." The countless gifts that are common in everyday life hide the fact that they are gifts. To discover these gifts, we need a way of thinking such as “seeing this world for the first time”. It is a thinking method called "deviation thinking", which is paired with centripetal thinking.
SF is to develop deviant thinking entirely. How will this world change if there is no single assumption that we take for granted? Many sci-fi masterpieces try to accurately portray the catastrophe that a slight deviation in assumption leads to. Deviant thinking, like science fiction, reminds us of what we have re-encountered in this world.
[Must-read point!] Ansung Hero is worthwhile
Fragility of this world
Think of this society as a small ball. Is it because the ball is at the bottom of the hollow that keeps the same everyday life? Or maybe it's because it's on the hill and it seems to fall down, but someone is desperately supporting it.
Those who think society is a ball placed in a hollow have lost the important feeling of "gratitude." So when you lose stability, you think someone has intentionally shaken the ball. But isn't our society really like a ball on a hill? The ball is supported by a myriad of people with unknown faces and names.
Let's call those people who can never be praised as Ansung Heroes. In order to notice the existence of these heroes, it is an anomaly that does not change, and it is necessary to have the intellectual ability to reasonably explain the anomaly.
The work of Ansang Hero is just a gift itself. Only those who are aware of this gift can work unknowingly to maintain their daily routine. Just like Santa Claus.
Why we "study"
When we see beautiful scenery-that is, when we receive the gift of pure nature-we want to share it with someone. This kind of behavior is a human tendency that can be seen not only in the modern age of SNS, but also in the old days. The act of transferring a gift from nature to someone who has not yet received it means that we are the messenger of the gift. And the person who became the messenger is given the gift of "life force" through the act of transferring it to the recipient.
All gifts begin with "receiving," and the messenger is tasked with delivering what they receive. Things that cannot be bought with money, such as "the meaning of living" and "work worthwhile", are given in reverse by the recipient of the gift by becoming a messenger.
So what should I do to be aware of the past gifts I've received? The answer is simple: you have to study. More specifically, we should learn more history. Of course, Japanese history and world history are important, but we should learn the footprints of humankind who built this society, such as economics, political thought, science, mathematics, technology, and medicine.
The system of the past is clearly different from that of the present. Imagine that if you were born in that world, read it, and then take a look around this real world again. You will find that we are given too much. An educated person is a person who realizes that the world is full of gifts by realizing that the knowledge and knowledge they have acquired is the gift itself.
Recommendation of reading
When we hear “philosophy” and “ideas”, some people may have the impression that discussions are unrelated to society and life. But when you read this book, you will find that philosophy and thoughts, like technology, enrich our lives. It's a metaphysical technology.
The author's specialty is Wittgenstein's philosophy, but contemporary thinkers such as Yuval Noah Harari, who is known for "The Complete History of Sapiens", and Hiroki Azuma, who oversees "Genron," as well as mysteries and science fiction masterpieces are quoted. , They are nicely joined. It is convincing that we advocate "knowledge mashup" that crosses the academic domain.