Browsing by Author "Holger, Lammert"
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ItemCompassion and attachment: a comparison of max scheler and theravada buddhismThis paper will explore how the concept of compassion is understood by the Western phenomenological tradition of Max Scheler, in contrast to how it is understood by Theravāda Buddhism. In the Western tradition the distinctions and connections between ‘empathy,’ ‘sympathy’ and ‘compassion’ involve considerations about morality and ethical theory. Max Scheler combines his phenomenology with psychological approaches to consider how one individual can relate to the mental states of another other individuals. Scheler, distinguishes between empathy and sympathy to avoid the need to experience another’s suffering directly. This distinction is made in Theravāda Buddhism, where emotional contagion is understood as a form of attachment. But Scheler unlike Buddhism, still emphasizes the autonomous subject of phenomenology which is central to ethical action. Central to Theravāda Buddhism is the recognition of suffering and dealing with the feelings that arise. The individual sheds their attachments and this leads to a wholesome kamma, as stated in the first of the Four Noble Truths. So the Theravada Buddhist tradition focuses on the alleviation of suffering not only in the mind of the individual but of humanity in general. Since Theravāda Buddhism stresses non-self, this moves it beyond Scheler’s approach. This approach to compassion is not one of ‘feeling with’ or ‘suffering with’ another specific individual, but one that actively addresses human suffering in general.