The greatest gift Culture 11 has given the world is the dazzling thought of RIT political theorist Ivan Kenneally. I think I’ll make Kenneally translation an occasional feature. On the subject of Thanksgiving:
Thanksgiving is a holiday devoted to the virtue of gratitude which, one could argue, finds less than hospitable ground in the modern world. The Lockean position on nature, that it furnishes only worthless materials that gain value through an imposition of labor, could not be more inconsistent with gratitude; in fact, Locke specifically undermines any conception of nature that would inspire reverence for the evidence it gives us of God’s providence. Instead of gratitude for what nature provides Locke encourages pride in our mastery and possession of nature—we take pride in ourselves as the only part of nature that can refashion nature. It is hard for beings who fancy themselves as radically self-sufficient or autonomous to be grateful for anything.
In the modern world, there is so much more to be grateful for. Therefore, we are less grateful.