International Studies in Phenomenology and Philosophy

Journal | Volume | Article


The economy of sacrifice and embodiment

James Mensch

pp. 19-41


This paper attempts to reconcile two different views of sacrifice. The first is transactional. It is as old as the ancient view that prayer and sacrifice are what we offer to the gods; in return they provide us with their benefits. It also appears in the biblical view that God not only returns good for good, but, in imposing misfortunes for our sins, exchanges evil for evil. The second view of sacrifice sees it as transcending any economy or system of exchange. Thus, when a parent sacrifices for a child—for example, when she spends sleepless nights to stay with a sick child—she does not think of an exchange. Neither does a soldier who sacrifices himself for his comrades. In this article, I try to reconcile these two views of sacrifice in terms of the embodiment that does not just place us, through our needs, in an economy, but also, in its uniqueness, opens up the possibility of our transcending every transactional arrangement.

Publication details

Published in:

Hagedorn Ludger, Sternad Christian (2018) Phenomenologies of sacrifice. Metodo 6 (2).

Pages: 19-41

DOI: 10.19079/metodo.6.2.19

Full citation:

Mensch James (2018) „The economy of sacrifice and embodiment“. Metodo 6 (2), 19–41.