Robert Wuthnow's Acts of Compassion PDF

By Robert Wuthnow

ISBN-10: 0691073902

ISBN-13: 9780691073903

ISBN-10: 1400813913

ISBN-13: 9781400813919

Robert Wuthnow reveals that those who find themselves so much excited about acts of compassion aren't any much less individualistic than someone else--and that those who find themselves the main intensely individualistic aren't any much less interested by taking good care of others. Robert Wuthnow unearths that those who find themselves such a lot curious about acts of compassion aren't any much less individualistic than a person else--and that those who find themselves the main intensely individualistic aren't any much less excited about taking care of others.

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Sample text

I wound up playing a very small part—a very small part. One person had been thrown free and wasn’t injured, so I just went over and stayed with her. And in less than a minute and a half the police and the ambulances were all there. She was standing there in the cold and I just went over and talked to her, found out what was going on, put her in the police car, and let her get warm. It was really something. “And I realized I’d been taking all these classes, but they weren’t enough. I wanted to know that if there was somebody in front of me who needed it I could help them.

Are we a compassionate people? Or, perhaps more realistically, does compassion play an important role in our society? And, if so, what is that role? Let me illustrate. Suppose I visit one of my students who is in the hospital. That is an act, a concrete behavior, maybe even a helping behavior (I take him his homework). Suppose he is in some pain and feeling rather depressed. I may leave sharing some of his depression as well, in which case my act has had both a physical and an emotional dimension.

Its assumptions need to be examined in light of how compassionate individuals actually construct their experiences. The rational-choice theorist makes three crucial assumptions: one, that individuals always and knowingly pursue self-interest; two, that they often do so (as in the prisoner game) without direct social interaction or communication; and three, that some omniscient being has set up simple, easy-to-calculate payoffs. None of these assumptions is valid in most ordinary caring behavior.

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Acts of Compassion by Robert Wuthnow


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