My remarks are embedded below:
> [Bill! from a previous post] I understand 'compassion' to mean 'to be
aware of the feelings of
> others'. Merriam-Webster Online defines it as "sympathetic consciousness
> others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it". That definition
> satisfies me.
[Ed] The definition is consonant with ones I have seen in Buddhist texts.
However, questions come to mind (as usual):
o Is possessing 'compassion' a badge of merit, or is it a normal and
natural aspect of human nature?
[Bill!] Some, St. Thomas Aquinas for one and Buddhists for another example,
believe that having compassion is a highly desirable quality. I believe it
is a normal and natural aspect of human nature, but like a lot of normal and
natural aspects of human nature it doesn't function well while we are living
in a world of illusion.
o Is not "sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a
desire to alleviate it" none other than a stipulation that a person
not possess genes for autism?
[Bill!] I don't know anything worthwhile to say about genes, but I don't
see a lot of people displaying compassion - especially for people that are
unknown to them, different from them or engaged in activities that are
problematic for them. In other words I think compassion is the exception
and not the rule.
o And when we do experience compassion, is it not usually selectively
directed toward persons we feel connected to in some way?
[Bill!] Yes, this seems to be the case for most people.
o For instance, do we feel compassion for the million-plus
war-widows caused by the US/UK/Australian invasion of Iraq?
[Bill!] I believe most Yanks/Brits/Aussies don't. They are taught to
de-humanize the enemies of their particular country. I think a lot of Arabs
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