Independent Question of the Day discussion

On Compassion

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message 1: by Myke (last edited Jan 14, 2009 03:35PM) (new)

Myke (SarahPalin) | 183 comments We just barely got to touch on this essay (discussion-wise) in class... enter Goodreads!

I'll start:
In the first paragraph, who do (or should) we feel compassion for - the vagrant or the mom (or the baby)?

I vote baby. He is the only innocent one.

Feel free to discuss anything else, friends (for example, is the first section effective?).

message 2: by Michael (new)

Michael Bouterse | 79 comments I vote everybody. It's just like The Brothers Karamazov.

message 3: by Michele (new)

Michele A fabulous discussion thread...I hate it when a thoughtful discussion begins and I must cut it off due to time constraints. Carry on so I can follow along!

message 4: by Jena (new)

Jena | 124 comments why should we feel compassionate for the mom? or even the baby? (not a rhetorical question)

message 5: by Myke (last edited Jan 16, 2009 05:23PM) (new)

Myke (SarahPalin) | 183 comments We should feel compassion for the mom because the vagrant may have been intentionally intimidating her.

We should immense compassion for the baby because he is alive.

Now I ask you, Jena, why would we feel compassion for the vagrant?

message 6: by Myke (last edited Jan 16, 2009 05:32PM) (new)

Myke (SarahPalin) | 183 comments This is a quote from The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera (which is a dope book) about compassion, which I think is worth sharing:

All languages that derive from Latin form the word compassion by combining the prefix meaning with (corn-) and the root meaning suffering (Late Latin, passio). In other languages—Czech, Polish, German, and Swedish, for instance— this word is translated by a noun formed of an equivalent prefix combined with the word that means feeling (Czech, sou-cit; Polish, wspol-czucie; German, Mit-gefuhl; Swedish, med-kansia).
In languages that derive from Latin, compassion means: we cannot look on coolly as others suffer; or, we sympathize with those who suffer. Another word with approximately the same meaning, pity (French, pitie; Italian, pieta; etc.), connotes a certain condescension towards the sufferer. To take pity on a woman means that we are better off than she, that we stoop to her level, lower ourselves.
That is why the word compassion generally inspires suspicion; it designates what is considered an inferior, second-rate sentiment that has little to do with love. To love someone out of compassion means not really to love.
In languages that form the word compassion not from the root suffering but from the root feeling, the word is used in approximately the same way, but to contend that it designates a bad or inferior sentiment is difficult. The secret strength of its etymology floods the word with another light and gives it a broader meaning: to have compassion (co-feeling) means not only to be able to live with the other's misfortune but also to feel with him any emotion—joy, anxiety, happiness, pain. This kind of compassion (in the sense of wspofczucie, Mitgefuhl, medkansia) therefore signifies the maximal capacity of affective imagination, the art of emotional telepathy. In the hierarchy of sentiments, then, it is supreme.

I like the non-Latin derived connotation, denotation, and etymology infinitely better than our English word for co-feeling.

message 7: by Josh (new)

Josh | 164 comments Hmmmm... it would seem the "compassion crew" needs to change its name.

message 8: by Myke (new)

Myke (SarahPalin) | 183 comments Josh wrote: "Hmmmm... it would seem the "compassion crew" needs to change its name."


message 9: by Michael (new)

Michael Bouterse | 79 comments How is that Polish one even pronounceable?

message 10: by Jena (new)

Jena | 124 comments well myke i feel like we havent talked in a while...what a shame.

well i wasn't saying that we should feel more compassionate for the vagrent. i havent even answered this question i simply asked a question according to your response...

well anyways. I do believe we should feel compassionate for the vagrant (in the first paragraph) because the author is witnessing how the vagrant, in this situation, is being treated by the average person through fear. atleast thats what it may seem like in that paragraph while infact, the author proves that the act was actually through compassion. However, the mother did give the vagrant money as well as the woman from the baker shop give another food. So why would we feel compassionate for one who recieves gifts such as money or food? anyone could really look at the situation from either side.

so we should feel compassionate for the baby simply becuase he is living? explain please

message 11: by Myke (last edited Jan 18, 2009 07:27PM) (new)

Myke (SarahPalin) | 183 comments Well, I suppose that some people might say you should feel compassion for the vagrant because he is poor, is looked down upon by society at large, and is feared.

I disagree though. I don't know much about this vagrant, but I would wager that he is homeless/poor/whatever because of a mistake he made... it was his own fault. So, call me callous, I don't think he truly deserves compassion ("co-feeling"). He does, I believe, deserve pity.

And the baby. O, the poor, fragile thing. The world is no place for a baby. May God have mercy on his soul.

message 12: by Michael (last edited Jan 18, 2009 08:37PM) (new)

Michael Bouterse | 79 comments Say, I just had a really interesting thought. Well, question, rather.

Should God pity us?

(I'm going by the definitions from the Kundera passage, so note that it's not compassion.)

I'm really curious to see what you guys have to say, for it's a multi-faceted question times n, from which concepts such as justice, free will, and love are indivisible--in my opinion, at least.

message 13: by Jena (new)

Jena | 124 comments Myke: true...i know someone who is homeless and yes, it was completely his fault, that's one of the many ways that drugs and alcohol can ruin someones life. so dont drink or do drugs...haha

Michael...thats a tough question. hmmmm...
i need to think about that.

well why would God pity his own creation?

message 14: by Michael (new)

Michael Bouterse | 79 comments But I know someone who is homeless and it was not completely his fault. On the contrary, it was voluntary.

If anything, my point is simply that we can't ever stereotype anything. The question loses a lot that way.

message 15: by Myke (new)

Myke (SarahPalin) | 183 comments But if the homelessness was voluntary (like an Chris McCandless thing?) then I don't think that merits compassion or pity... because it is what that individual wanted.

message 16: by Jena (new)

Jena | 124 comments Very true...well the homeless person i know, its a long story but basically he was homeless to begin with which was completely his fault. then he straitened up his act and was able to rent a room and live with a friend, and his friend is in the military so he's gone and was stupid enough to give full custody over the house so she doesnt like my friend who was living with them so she kicked him out...if anyone understood that..

well the point is, the 2nd time he was homeless it was not at all his fault, me as a wittness.

in response to the other question michael thought of...
why would got pity his own creation? (of coars if thats what you believe in...i certainly do! :))

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