Compassion and Selflessness

Bernard Reginster

in Nietzsche, Naturalism, and Normativity

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199583676
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745294 | DOI:
Compassion and Selflessness

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One of Nietzsche's chief objections to Schopenhauer's theory of compassion is that it rests on an indiscriminate devaluation of suffering. Another, more elusive, objection is that Schopenhauerian compassion fosters selflessness, understood as a kind of self-devaluation. This chapter focuses on this second objection. The chapter observes that at least some of the elusive character of this objection may be explained by the fact that both Schopenhauer and Nietzsche operate with several distinct concepts of selflessness. And the chapter argues that the deepest, if less than fully explicit, point behind Nietzsche's objection of selflessness is that Schopenhauerian compassion cannot be altruistic because it cannot reflect a proper appreciation of the personal significance another person's interests have for her.

Keywords: altruism; compassion; identification; individuation; Schopenhauer; self-consciousness; self-denial; selflessness

Chapter.  12053 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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