chapter  3
14 Pages

Love and the Suspicious Spirit

ByAlan Jacobs

In antiquity, the Roman familia was not simply people but the entire 'household', including the objects in the home down to the food and the means of livelihood. Later Roman law, however, increasingly distinguished economic and ritual interest: it divided the familia into res and persmwe. Hyde is interested in this legal development because it goes a long way toward transforming many forms of human creativity, including, especially, works of art, from gifts that bind people together to commodities that divide them. Every gift, argues Mauss, not only expects but demands some return: Exchange and reciprocity are at the heart of every gift-giving practice. In short, Mauss subjects the gift to a rigorous hermeneutics of suspicion, a suspicion that is a priori and absolute. Ricoeur gives the gift of his attention and reflection to the 'symbolic world'.