The Lallands Peat Worrier’s excellent post on reasonable and intelligent compassion.
This semester, I have been teaching jurisprudence, taking our law students through centuries of ideas about justice and mercy, of morality and law. It has been a fascinating – and sometimes challenging – process, reacquainting me with thinkers whose work I last considered in earnest some years ago. Just this week, we were talking about states of emergency, and the suspension of law in the name of security. I had no idea, when I took to my feet on Tuesday, that the end of the week would again make our discussion so bloodily, so horrifically concrete. There will be a raised voices today, arguments, anger and sorrow, for Beirut, and for Paris. I don’t propose to add my half-formed thoughts and reactions to the multitude. But I did want to share this passage with you, which has been bouncing around my skull this morning. It is from Adam Smith’s (1759) Theory of Moral Sentiments. Smith argued that fellow-feeling is the root of our ethics. He returns – again and again – to the figure of the sympathetic spectator, who participates in the joys, and the sufferings, of others.
Source: Lallands Peat Worrier