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Saturday 19 October: 3:00pm - 4:15pm

Faculty of Divinity, Runcie Room, Sidgwick Site,West Road, CB3 9BS

Must giving a gift necessarily exclude hopes of a return to be considered a “good deed”? The ancient philosopher Seneca called gifts and favours “the chief factor in tying human society together”, but he and others have thought of gift giving as a reciprocal “tit for tat” rather than as altruistic, selfless sacrifice.

Giving figures prominently in many animal societies. In one form or another, it is also part of our evolutionary heritage and may come natural to us. In human “gift economies”, the rules of giving are traditionally marked by reciprocity, and some anthropologists have highlighted this as a more organic, relational model of society. Reciprocity seems more clearly geared towards forging bonds of mutual commitment than purely altruistic giving. Yet things may be more complicated than they appear. In reciprocal exchange, those who cannot afford return gifts may end up excluded. Nevertheless, why do religious and philosophical traditions often single out altruism as an ideal? Is one particular kind of giving truly preferable to another? A short film produced by Alexander Massmann and DragonLight Films, followed by a discussion panel, will delve into the complex nature of gift giving for humans and their close relatives.

Thank you very for joining us for the premiere of the film “Give and Take” at the Cambridge Festival of Ideas. The film is now available to the public on YouTube
We hope you enjoy watching it again, and would be grateful if you could share widely!

Booking Information

Telephone number:
01223 766766

Booking required


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Additional Information

Age: 16+, Film, Arrive on time, Free