Gratitude, Ressentiment, and Citizenship Education

Mark E. Jonas
Wheaton College, Illinois
Patricia White (Stud Philos Educ 18:43–52, 1999) argues that the virtue gratitude is essential to a flourishing democracy because it helps foster universal and reciprocal amity between citizens. Citizens who participate in this reciprocal relationship ought to be encouraged to recognize that “much that people do does in fact help to make communal civic life less brutish, pleasanter and more flourishing.” This is the case even when the majority of citizens do not intentionally seek to make civic life better for others. Were citizens to recognize the appropriateness of gratitude in these situations, the bonds of our democratic communities would be strengthened. In this paper, I examine White’s argument more carefully, arguing that it fails to address adequately the difficulties that arise when we attempt to encourage the virtue of gratitude in our students. To address these difficulties, I turn to an unlikely source for democratic inspiration: Friedrich Nietzsche. In spite of his well-known anti-democratic sentiments, Nietzsche offers democratic citizens insights into the social value of gratitude. I argue that Nietzsche’s ideas resolve the educational difficulties in White’s argument and viably establish gratitude as an important democratic virtue that ought to be cultivated
Keywords Gratitude  Resentment   Ressentiment  Democracy  Citizenship Education  Nietzsche
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11217-011-9261-8
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 38,984
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Human, All Too Human.Friedrich Nietzsche - 1996 - Cambridge University Press.
Gratitude and Justice.Patrick Fitzgerald - 1998 - Ethics 109 (1):119-153.

View all 22 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Gratitude, Citizenship and Education.Patricia White - 1999 - Studies in Philosophy and Education 18 (1):43-52.
Propositional Gratitude.Sean McAleer - 2012 - American Philosophical Quarterly 49 (1):55-66.
Duties of Gratitude.Samuel V. Bruton - 2003 - Philosophy in the Contemporary World 10 (1):11-15.
Gratitude and Good Government.Dudley Knowles - 2002 - Res Publica 8 (1):1-20.
The Moral Significance of Gratitude in Kant's Ethics.Houston Smit & Mark Timmons - 2011 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 49 (4):295-320.
A Liberal Theory of Civic Virtue.Robert Audi - 1998 - Social Philosophy and Policy 15 (1):149.
Should I Be Grateful to You for Not Harming Me?Saul Smilansky - 1997 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 57 (3):585 - 597.
Towards a Phenomenology of Gratitude.Peter R. Costello - 2005 - Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 79:261-277.
Democracy, Citizenship and the Bits in Between.Sarah Fine - 2014 - In Richard Bellamy & Madeleine Kennedy-Macfoy (eds.), Citizenship. Routledge. pp. 623-640.


Added to PP index

Total views
49 ( #146,792 of 2,319,632 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
5 ( #276,187 of 2,319,632 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature