The gift as philosophical critique of the social grant system in South Africa


  • Erik Heppell North-Wes University, South Africa
  • Mark Rathbone North-West University, South Africa



Reciprocity, The gift, Derrida, Marion, Mauss, Milbank, South African social grant system, Economic circularity


The purpose of this article is to undertake a philosophical reflection on the South African social grant system from the perspective of the gift as presented by Marcel Mauss, Alasdair John Milbank, Jean-Luc Marion and Jacques Derrida. Mauss’s and Milbank’s view of the gift is based on reciprocity and a circular economy that highlights a reductionist understanding of the gift and possibly of the social grant system. On the other hand, Marion’s saturated gift emphasises givenness as a transcendent phenomenon that moves beyond the donor-receiver relationship and may end in a mystical theology. The aneconomics of Derrida will be presented as an alternative to these reductions as a function of the appearance of the other. The appearance of the other interrupts economic circularity and opens the possibility of hospitality. This appearance is a continuous event in which case the aporia remains intact. The gift is not an object or finalisation. It is the continuous interface with the other that deconstructs circularity and maintains the dignity and flourishing of the participants 


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