, Volume 56, Issue 4, pp 631–647 | Cite as

Gifts without Givers: Secular Spirituality and Metaphorical Cognition

  • Drew ChastainEmail author


The option of being ‘spiritual but not religious’ deserves much more philosophical attention. That is the aim here, taking the work of Robert Solomon as a starting point, with focus on the particular issues around viewing life as gift. This requires analysis of ‘existential gratitude’ to show that there can be gratitude for things without gratitude to someone for providing things, and also closer attention to the role that metaphor plays in cognition. I consider two main concerns with gift and gratitude thinking, that the nonreligious justification is too instrumentalist in its approach and that viewing life as gift, whether in a religious or nonreligious way, is simply too optimistic.


Gift Metaphor Cognition Gratitude Secularism Spirituality 



I am grateful to Jason Berntsen for his support and critical reflection. Our interaction greatly stimulated the development of ideas for this paper.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Loyola University of New OrleansNew OrleansUSA

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