Journal of Buddhist Ethics

An online journal of Buddhist scholarship related to ethics.


Compassion and Equanimity

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 14, 2007

Do the Compassionate Flourish? Overcoming Anguish and the Impulse towards Violence

Chris Frakes
University of Colorado, Colorado Springs

In this paper I argue that in order for compassion to be considered a virtue, Western philosophical accounts of compassion must be supplemented by Buddhist understandings. After examining two potential problems with compassion (that it may burden the compassionate agent with anguish such that s/he cannot flourish and that feeling compassion may give rise to violence on behalf of the suffering), I consider a way out of both of these problems. My central claim is that the proper emotion which demonstrates the virtue of compassion is that of equanimity.

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