On the Suffering of Compassion

Philosophia 39 (1):125-144 (2011)

Authors
Peter Nilsson
Umeå University
Abstract
Compassion is often described in terms of suffering. This paper investigates the nature of this suffering. It is argued that compassion involves suffering of a particular kind. To begin with a case is made for the negative claim that compassion does not involve an ordinary, or afflictive, suffering over something. Secondly, it is argued that the suffering of compassion is a suffering for someone else’s sake: If you feel compassion for another person, P, then you suffer over P:s suffering for P:s sake, and if that is all you do, then you are not affected with an afflictive suffering over something. The final section identifies and addresses a problem concerning self-pity, and a suggestion is made on how to specify the proposed account so as to cover both self-directed and other-directed compassion
Keywords compassion  suffering
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DOI 10.1007/s11406-010-9265-6
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Moral Thinking: Its Levels, Method, and Point.R. M. Hare (ed.) - 1981 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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