CAP (Centre for Art and Philosophy) is an interdisciplinary research platform based at the Faculty of Philosophy of the Erasmus University Rotterdam. Most of its members have been or are still working at the department as lecturers, researchers or affiliates.

Debt and Gift: Conflict, Patronage and Recognition at the End of the Economy

A symposium organized by the Centre for Art and Philosophy, Erasmus University College and the Erasmus Institute for Public Knowledge
Saturday 28 March 2015
13h00 Philip Goodchild - Marketplace or Sacred Temple? The nature of the economy in banking and finance

Followed by a dialogue with Liesbeth Noordegraaf-Eelens
14h15 Coffee
14h30 Marcel Hénaff - Rethinking  reciprocity and  recognition -  Beyond  Mauss  and  Gift Economy

Followed by a dialogue with Marc Schuilenburg

15h45 Coffee
16h00 Henk Oosterling - Interest and Interesse. When Enough is Enough

Followed by a dialogue with René ten Bos
17h15 Plenary discussion
18h00 Reception
Please consult for speaker’s biographies, abstracts and program updates.


Because of the limited number of seats, please register by e-mail with Monique Goense – – if you want to participate.


Erasmus University College
Nieuwemarkt 1A Rotterdam

Abstracts and speakers' biographies
Marcel Hénaff - In the beginning was the  alliance. Ceremonial gift exchange, violence and  recognition 

It could be that the ceremonial gift exchange described by Mauss has little to do with the ordinary idea of giving (as unilateral generosity and gesture of solidarity), and that the primary purpose of that  exchange is to be a gesture of alliance among groups—that is to say, an act that performs a political foundation of human groups based on reciprocity and public recognition. In which case this ceremonial exchange must be understood as the symbolic process that makes a human society possible. It therefore does not constitutes a “gift economy,” to quote the strange oxymoron used by Mauss himself.

Marcel Hénaff is a professor of philosophy and anthropology at the University of California, San Diego, in the departments of literature and political science. The fundamental question he has attempted to raise since his earliest works is that of the social bond in its symbolic as well as political aspects. This has led him, under the inspiration of Marcel Mauss and Claude Lévi-Strauss, to investigate practices of ceremonial gift exchange in traditional societies. He views these practices as being primarily procedures of public recog- nition in human groups. He has shown that this form of agonistic exchange and political pact is entirely unrelated to economic exchanges and is not meant to be a substitute for an economy. Its primary purpose is to affirm the bond of reciprocity and the boundless re- quirement of respect that underlie every social relationship. This necessarily involves the radical question of the priceless. In his prizewinning “The Price of Truth: Gift, Money, and Philosophy” (2002) and “Le Don des philosophes. Repenser la réciprocité” (2012), Hénaff deals with the question of priceless goods: truth, glory, recognition, and ultimately life itself, in other words, goods that cannot be subjected to commercial relationships with- out undermining or destroying human dignity. In addition, he has published widely on urbanism, public space and the commons. His essay for this volume explores the tense relation between art, the humanities and the modern market.


Philip Goodchild - Marketplace or Sacred Temple? The nature of the economy in banking and finance

This talk is about the way in which modern commercial exchange is founded and dependent on a restricted economy of patronage, redemption, forgiveness, giving and sharing – in the form of the privileged nexus of relations between central banks, sovereign states, and major clearing banks.  It will show how our debt-based economy has been disclosed to be something quite different from a ‘market’ since the financial crisis of 2007-8. 

Philip Goodchild is Professor of Religion and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham, UK.  He is the author of two books on Deleuze as well as Capitalism and Religion: The Price of Piety and Theology of Money.


Henk Oosterling

Former Dutch kendo champion and activist Henk Oosterling is an associate professor of philosophy at the Erasmus University Rotterdam. He has written widely on sacrifice, generosity and relationality. He is best known for his many cooperative endeavors with practitioners in the cinema, theater, design and the visual arts as well as social work, education and policymaking. Inspired by Japanese philosophy and the French philosophers of difference, he has elaborated an “ecosophy” centered on the transition from “radical mediocrity” to inter-est, i.e., from our total and unreflected-on embedment in media, technologies and insurance arrangements to an integral ecology in which physical health, social wealth and mental wisdom converge. Starting from the paradox of scarcity in affluence, this transition implies a shift from Maslow’s famous pyramid to a network-based, transversal anthropology of “interviduals,” summarized in the slogan “Dasein is design.” His latest books, “Woorden als daden” (Words as acts, 2009) and “Eco 3. Doendenken” (Eco 3. reflaction, 2013), describe the projects and philosophy of Skillcity Rotterdam, an ecosocial research model for urban revitalization and renovation focused on the singular sociocultural and socioeconomic situation of Rotterdam. In this model, non-pecuniary values such as self-confidence, responsibility, authenticity, ambition and craftsmanship are seen as inseparable from commercial exchange, even if the latter remains parasitic on their non-exhaustion.