Carmody Grey

Function and Gratuity in Theology and Biology

Volume 9 () / Issue 1, pp. 38-57 (20)
Published 05.10.2022

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Biological, psychological, and social accounts of gratitude seem to be in tension with theological or philosophical construals. Is there a conflict between something being for an instrumental end, such as evolutionary advantage, and for its own sake? This article explores the way in which certain debates in theology offer a model for answering a definite 'No' to zero-sum models of a relation between these two senses of 'for,' which I call the functional and the gratuitous. It is not necessarily the case that something's meaning is either in and for itself (gratuitous) or externally located beyond or subsequent to itself (functional). With an analogical ontology, something may be for its own sake and for a purpose external to itself at the same time. In the pie of 'for,' we do not have to apportion to the gratuitous only the leftovers when the functional slice has been eaten. We do not apportion one piece of the pie to theology; the whole pie is theological from the outset.

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