Reciprocal Giving?

Eric Brown has posited on his blog, WeirdGuy that the Principle of Reciprocity applies to the act of giving. While this is a wonderful idea, I believe it falls into the realms of fantasy instead of fact.  I do not concur with his assessment that “giving is infectious“.

Altruism has its place and that place is good in that it serves the Good. It does not engender similar behavior in the beneficiaries of such kindness. Many people do not even recognize that they have been given a gift; they take the gift as their due – fair recompense for some past act of theirs. Others live under the delusion of Entitlement – the self-serving surety that they deserve such gifts because of some accident of birth or upbringing.


13 Responses to “Reciprocal Giving?”

  1. ebrown Says:

    Thanks Jonolan,

    You raise a good point, however, my perspective was from the point of the Giver. Granted, those receiving may feel they deserve it. There is nothing a Giver can do about that except choose to whom they give to next. Is this principle altruistic? Sure it is. Does it work? You bet it does.

    -eb (WeirdGuy)

  2. jonolan Says:

    Ah, a very good point – I focused on the proposed effect of the giving on the recipient as opposed to the benefactor. I dispute the infectious nature of giving, not the value of doing so.

    In some sense altruism is a myth, since giving can often be its own reward. That being said, myths like altruism could start a new Saga that would be worth hearing sung!

  3. damewiggy Says:

    thanks for stopping by ‘matters’ and scaring the fuck outta me with your avatar.

    honestly, i didn’t expect to find such an interesting blog, so i’m glad i shimmied over. you’ve got some really good content. i look forward to revisits. be good … and stop scaring the children, goddamnit! i know its october, but fuck!

    p.s. sorry, i’m profane.

  4. Christy Says:

    Before I read the comments, my thoughts were in reference to the giver, not the receiver.

    I used to think people were insane when they talked about the “joy of giving” or that the more they gave, the more they desired to give – my conception of giving was that if one gave, one gave out of a sense of obligation and duty, not desire and joy. In college, during philosophy classes, I remember wrestling around with the concept of generosity, of living simply, of taking care of others’ needs through giving away excess (probably in light of reading some of Peter Singer’s arguments) and I thought while it might be a nice concept, there was no way I’d ever one, do it, let alone, two, desire to do it.

    But it’s true – when you start to give, it becomes infectious – the more you give, the more you want to give, the more you look for ways to give. It’s a bit crazy. And for me, the more I receive, the more I want to give.

  5. jonolan Says:


    Firstly – welcome back! It’s been too long since you’ve posted or commented; I’ve missed you. As for the infectiousness of giving, I agree that it can become somewhat addictive. I cannot agree with the truth of any reciprocity however. I have not seen that giving to someone causes them to want to give to you or to others.

  6. Christy Says:

    Thanks, Jonolan. I’ve had a crazy few months, to say the least. =) Hopefully I’ll be a little more consistent. =)

    No, I agree with you in general; but I have seen within myself, that when I started giving, and then was given to, it made me want to give even more. However, before I started giving, and was given to, it did nothing. I expressed some sort of gratitude out of sense of duty or delight in the moment, but not from a profound thankfulness. So perhaps the formula is, if one is already practicing giving, and then receives, one is more likely to desire to give even more, realizing what it is like to be on the receiving end of giving.

    Follow that? 😉
    It’s late.
    There are those who are selfish, self-absorbed and who just receive with no thought to ever extending themselves.

    One question is, does one give based upon how one judges another to respond to that giving or does one give simply to give, regardless of whether or not appreciation is expressed or a generous heart is encouraged?

  7. Christy Says:

    Oh yeah, I’m also blogging at:

  8. Christopher Says:

    I echo Wierdguy’s sentiment on giving.

    With that said,I believe that in the Christian sense or idea of being a giver (blessing others less fortunate and or just for GP), the exercise in being a giver is that it’s another “step” if you will; in the progression of being perfected in Christ.

    When you can give freely, cheerfully & honestly of yourself to God or others; be it time, $, your services, food, your talents(or whatever else you can think of), & NOT EXPECT ANYTHING in return for your efforts, then you are being Christ-like in giving.

    BTW, I’m the same guy that posted at a few days ago. I sincerely hope that my comments weren’t received as “picking” at you or your opinions. I was only sharing what I understand and believe to be truths to the bigger picture.

    “We marveled at our magnificence….”

  9. jonolan Says:


    Welcome to Reflections From A Murky Pond. I’m happy you stopped by. Don’t worry about the exchange over at Pistol Pete’s; I’m always happy to respond to comments that vary from opinions. I rarely think of it as “picking.”

    I cannot disagree that freely giving without expectation of any personal gain in return would be a “”step” if you will; in the progression of being perfected in Christ.” From my studies of Christianity i have come to understand that this would be so. I just disagree with Weirdguy’s premise that giving freely causes others to do so.

    In point of fact the belief in reciprocity might actually interfere with the concept of giving freely and without expectation.

  10. Christopher Says:


    You do have a point there, I overlooked the word “cause”, and after mentally digesting the premise a bit more, I’d have to agree with your stand. Still… I’m holding to the idea that the action of giving could affect another person to become a giver, the true Architect however is a conviction of the heart by the Holy Spirit.

    Grace & peace be with you

  11. Christy Says:

    Oh, more dialogue, goody.


    I agree with both you, Jonolan, and Christopher. And do so, I hope, without contradiction; I think it all comes down to the heart – one’s intentions – and only that person and God can know what that is. We can only determine one’s actions and what one says about one’s internal motivations but we can’t examine the actual intentions/heart of a person – that’s the realm of Deity.

    If our motivation in giving is reciprocity, then is there any moral value in that giving? Jesus said “If you love those who love you, what good is that?” He went on to say that those who follow Him must love their enemies. If we give only because we believe we will somehow receive in turn, then our giving has lost eternal value or worth.

    But intellectually acknowledging that a giving spirit might induce another to also have a giving spirit does not negate our giving if our intention is to give selflessly (without a thought to ourselves) for the sake of another, as Jesus has called us to.

    Jesus talked about those who gave alms for the poor but did it loudly and with much fanfare – he said blessed were those whose right hand did not know what the left hand was doing – in other words, who kept their good works quiet, not looking to be recognized.

    I think it all comes down to the internal motivation of the heart. And I wonder whether giving out of a sense of obligation rather than joy is true “giving.” Furthermore, if we give merely to see an end result, rather than giving sacrificially, does our giving really have moral value or worth? It might make a difference in terms of the physical, but in matters of the spiritual realm, will our giving be judged as selfless or as prideful requests for adoration/admiration/respect?

  12. jonolan Says:

    As always, an interesting and insightful comment, Christy.

    I find no conflict or contradiction in agreeing with both Christopher and myself. He and I were approaching the subject from quite different vectors and could not be at odds.

    You raise an interesting underlying point: what is the spiritual value of giving when it is done for gain? One could apply that question in far more fundamental way than just the reciprocity principle discussed herein.

  13. Christy Says:

    Agreed. *grin*

    (Thanks for providing a great forum for discussion through your posts.)

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