Reciprocity between agent and patient

Reciprocity between agent and patient, is one of the most bizarre categories in the Critique. Some of them aren’t so bad; like modality (possibility, necessity, contingency). But…reciprocity of agent and patient?

Lets consider this ‘phrase’, or better still, the notion of reciprocity in some non-cognitive or non-Kantian (I assume) sense.

Well, I’m considering the normal usage, or at least the most frequent of usages. Reciprocity (def) is the return of one’s sentiment towards another.

I wonder how important the role of reciprocity is towards relationships. Many would hold that reciprocity is some key part of a relationship, to be civil, and have civility returned. To love an object, and have the object return such sentiment to the subject.

My prima facie case concerns loving those who cannot return their feelings. Children, or those, for one reason or another cannot by virtue of incapacity, cannot return the full extent, or even any response of compassion, or nurture, or affection, or understanding to the subject.

We might immediately dismiss the case of children as being a counter-case, why? Because of their potentiality to love and care for the parent subject in the future. Okay, then lets stipulate some case where it is nomologically impossible; brain damage or variance of emotional functioning (e.g. those interesting cases like P. Gate).

Many say it is some key component of interpersonal relations for reciprocity to obtain. The commonsense phrase that such relations must be two-way. Seems prima facie like some interesting ideal.

If a loving relation were to be one way; perhaps some may not even say it was a relation at all, but some one-way process. My old theological education is reminding me of the notion of perichoresis; which may be analogous in all human relations, but finds the paradigm case in the relation between Christ and God the father. The notion of reciprocity, and ideals of human relations towards the normative development of character seems a very important part of the furniture of our lives. Not so much as a metaphysical notion, but in how we live our lives, and the meanings imbued in life.

Maybe Kant was onto something for saying it was a condition for experience, it may be, our condition of understanding other people, in some more primitive way than I address, or, further still, some primitive of the ideal of how we shall live.

But why does it irk us?

Michael and Antisophie

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