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Charles Buck Theological Dictionary


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Is that species of affection which is excited either by the actual distress of its object, or by some impending calamity which appears inevitable. It is a benevolent sorrow for the sufferings or approaching misery of another. The etymology of the word expresses this idea with strict propriety, as it signifies suffering with the object. Hobbes makes this a mere selfish passion, and defines it as "being fear for ourselves." Hutcheson resolves it into instinct; but Dr. Butler much more properly considers it as an original distinct particular affection in human nature. It may be considered as a generic name, comprehending several other affections; as mercy, commiseration, pity. This affection, (as well as every other of our nature, ) no doubt, was wisely given us by our Creator. "Ideas of fitness, " as Saurin observes, "seldom make much impression on the bulk of mankind; it was necessary therefore to make sensibility supply the want of reflection; and by a counter-blow with which the miseries of a neighbour strike our feeling, produce a disposition in us to relieve him."

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Bibliography Information
Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Compassion'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. 1802.

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