Sympathy

Journal of Ethics 3 (1):73-87 (1999)
Abstract
In this article I examine an example of sympathy -- the actions of one woman who rescued Jews during their persecution in Nazi Europe. I argue that this woman''s account of her actions here suggests that sympathy is a primitive response to the suffering of another. By primitive here I mean: first, that these responses are immediate and unthinking; and second, that these responses are explanatorily basic, that they cannot be explained in terms of some more fundamental feature of human nature -- such as some particular desire or sentiment that we possess. My conclusion is then that our sympathetic responses are themselves partially constitutive of our conception of what is to be a human being.
Keywords compassion  Hume  primitive responses  Schopenhauer  sympathy
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