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Dialogue and Universalism

Volume 27, Issue 4, 2017

Values and Ideals. Theory and Practice: Part V

Topi Heikkerö
Pages 189-201

On Compassion: The Good beyond Values

This paper is a dialogue that considers compassion as a grounding for ethics. Its approach is thematic but it draws significantly from Arthur Schopenhauer’s account of compassion (Mitleid). In Schopenhauer’s thought, values (Werthe) are functions of a subject’s willing and therefore inevitably tied to an ego-centric viewpoint. Real ethics needs to find a good beyond subjective valuations. Schopenhauer finds an ethical phenomenon beyond values in Mitleid, “suffering-together,” compassion. Compassion is a pre-reflective benevolent feeling toward another’s suffering. Compassion can occur only if the ego-world duality is overcome at least to some extent. In this way compassion is a metaphysical sentiment.