Eloges de l’ingratitude

Who has not experienced gratitude? Worthless people, spoiled children apparently… But also the unsatisfied, the revolted, and those who, because they are disinherited, destitute or victims, do not have anyone to “be obliged to” or simply thank.

A sign of satisfaction resulting from an act of kindness normally perceived as the consequence of a donation, gratitude is equally acknowledged as a moral necessity in our societies. Indeed, whenever we receive something, it is our duty to return it, materially or symbolically, in order to convey our appreciation.

However, this evidence of donation which generates the feeling of gratitude deserves questioning. Ingratitude could then simultaneously indicate what is comprised within gratitude and what constitutes its refusal or reversal. The objective is not only to recall that ingratitude may, in certain cases, be salutary, but also to demonstrate how ingratitude can allow us to reflect on the donation and its deconstruction.

This course explores possible representations and justifications of ingratitude in philosophical works as well as in fiction. The authors we have chosen will be the objects of a critical review from a double perspective – aesthetic and moral.

Authors include Seneca, Hobbes, Rousseau, Shakespeare, Corneille, Dickens and Balzac.