Compassion: An east-west comparison

Asian Philosophy 6 (1):5 – 16 (1996)
Abstract Compassion is an emotion that occupies a central position in Mah?y?na Buddhist philosophy while it is often a neglected subject in contemporary western philosophy. This essay is a comparison between an Eastern view of compassion based upon Mah?y?na Buddhist perspectives and a western view of the same emotion. Certain principles found in Mah?y?na Buddhist philosophy such as the Bodhisattva Ideal, and suffering (dukkha) to name two, are explored for the information they contain about compassion. An essay by Lawrence Blum is taken as representative of a Western view (but not exclusively) and it is analyzed for its shortcomings in light of the Buddhist view. The conclusion briefly describes the value of understanding an eastern view on compassion as a means of filling the void one finds in western medical ethics discourse which focuses so heavily, and redundantly, upon issues such as patient autonomy and paternalism
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