compassion (was Extropianism in the media)

Eric Watt Forste (
Tue, 6 Aug 1996 19:44:06 -0700

>Kelley argues that benevolence should be
>regarded as a major virtue, and shows the rationality (based on a
>self-interested pursuit of life and flourishing) of civility, generosity,
>and sensitivity.

Indeed, the pancriticalist's understanding of rationality can be construed
so as to imply that a person is rational only in so far as they are
prepared to seriously consider criticisms of their positions. And given the
well-known difficulties in communication, seriously considering a criticism
involves being sensitive to different senses in which words may be applied,
sensitive to the values that might motivate this particular criticism, etc.

"Compassion" is derived from words meaning "feeling with", and for
practical purposes, I think it is very difficult to seriously consider any
attempt at criticism without making some attempt to "feel with" the
criticizer. Misunderstanding is easy, particularly if one is adopting a
stance which promotes misunderstanding. Compassion is a psychological
stance that enhances the reception and understanding of messages, including

Looked at this way, we can construe compassion as not merely something that
rationality recommends, but as one of the sources from which full
rationality springs.

Eric Watt Forste <>