Compassion: Caught or Taught? Both?

Compassion: Caught or Taught? Both?

– sympathy/empathy – a way to connect with you
– compassion is to be used in balance
– role of emotions in making decisions has been questioned by philosophers over the ages because they are too subjective & changeable
– we cannot help having the emotions we do
– emotions can help though also with making moral decisions
– emotions are fundamental to what make us a human being, & managing them helps us to flourish
– Nussbaum: believes we can act on our emotions with rationality
– compassion is a virtue (appropriate response – gets the balance right between too much & too little) & it combines reasoning, emotion & action (knowing & desiring to act compassionately)
– there a religious/theological underpinnings
– Nietzsche believed compassion was a weakness
– Aristotle argue that “deservingness” was an important consideration with respect to whether someone should receive compassion
– professor spoken to believed compassion should be condition-free because it is fundamental to being a human
– professor argues compassion can be both taught & caught by:
1) – engage with literature & placing yourself in the shoes of key characters & why they acted the way they did (recognising at actions do not occur in a vacuum, and are informed by systems) [narratives; fables; reflect critically on morals]
2) – enact programs about service with & service for others (work with them)
3) – encourage dialogues with people who are suffering
4) – programs for the wider community
– Hume’s views were about sympathy (something which enables us to share the emotion of another whereas compassion does not mean sharing emotions)
– cognitive component processes the outward signs of emotions (sad face, crying) of another person
– and this allows us to then feel it
– he believed sympathy played an important role in forming a person’s character
– sympathy also allows us to connect with people, including when around other people who reflect back to us what they think & feel about us – to take on criticism – we are more susceptible to opinions of this who are close to us – important to self-development [if you annoy people enough, they will let you know]
– overlook our biases, our sympathies & look at why the person behaved the way they did
– we are prejudiced in favour of our friends
– It is useful for us to scrutinise ourselves to gain a higher perspective

Source: ABC RN The Philosopher’s Zone | 29 January 2017


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