The Wake of Love: Critical Considerations on Steinbock’s Gift

Document Type : Original Article


Existential Network Scotland, Dartford Grammar Schoor


In his book It’s Not about the Gift: From Givenness to Loving, Steinbock advances a new phenomenological analysis of the gift. In this analysis, the gift is not about what is being given, but about the event of a loving relation between two subjects. In this interpersonal relation the gift emerges as each beloved withdraws themselves in order to reveal the other as they are by being loved in humility. In this paper, I undertake to express two main challenges for Steinbock’s account of the gift. The first concerns Steinbock’s attempt to disengage the phenomenon of surprise from the possibility of the gift. The second involves his neglecting the body. This neglect raises serious questions on the kind of love during which the gift is supposed to emerge. In the epilogue, instead of a conclusion, I offer some thoughts on the gift that have not been given much attention in the philosophical discussion of the gift.