The typically suspicious claims of the cynic or conspiracy theorist only expose his rotten perspective of human nature. I was once told that even the act of thanks is suspect, for all gratitude is conditioned propaganda. If that is the case then nobody deserves thanks, because merit is impossible to determine, given the ugly taint of self-serving motives. It depends whether being publicly grateful is suspect because all praise is necessarily suspect.
I agree with the Duke (La Rochefoucauld) that it is by the estimation of our feelings that we exaggerate the good qualities of others than by their merit and when we praise them we wish to attract their praise. Most people are shallow enough to be accused of secretly hoping for further favors in their gratitude. But this in no way means all gratitude is necessarily self-serving praise. This greatly underestimates certain individuals who may be magnanimous enough to appreciate a direct challenge to their thoughts, more so than mere confirmation of their convictions.
If I had a low opinion of people in general, then some of the charges of propaganda would stick. Then again…
[gratitude] may be not only the greatest of all virtues it is also their mother. – Cicero
The essence of all great art is gratitude – Nietzsche
We may never praise without a motive, for praise is flattery that gratifies differently him who praises and he who is praised. The one who takes it as the reward for merit and the other who bestows it to show his impartiality and knowledge.
That is true but “gratitude is one of the least articulate of the emotions, especially when it is deep.” – Felix Frankfurter
The proud man is hardly a great man for thinks he never gets as much he deserves, but the Buddha says none of us have cause for anything except gratitude and joy. If criticism has survived far more insidious oppression elsewhere, then it can withstand even the horrors of praise, especially when it is in the form of gratitude.