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Altruism and Altruistic LoveScience, Philosophy, and Religion in Dialogue$
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Stephen G. Post, Lynn G. Underwood, Jeffrey P. Schloss, and William B. Hurlbut

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780195143584

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195143584.001.0001

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The Human Experience of Compassionate Love

The Human Experience of Compassionate Love

Conceptual Mapping and Data from Selected Studies

(p.72) 5 The Human Experience of Compassionate Love
Altruism and Altruistic Love

Lynn G. Underwood

Oxford University Press

Compassion is a manifestation of love. And love, whatever else it may be, is something that involves choices. Choosing between options is a condition of freedom in finitude. Freedom is required to express fully compassionate love, yet each person's freedom is limited in a variety of ways. There are physical limitations, such as disability or material resource limits. There are emotional limitations as well. Compassion can also be expressed by making space for others to give. Allowing others to give is frequently an undervalued way of being compassionate. Self-reports are limited in a variety of ways and should not be relied on alone to determine whether a person is feeling and expressing compassionate love. Contemplative traditions have developed methods to help people in their religious development and discernment, methods that can aid in exploring and defining motives and thus help in discerning loving, compassionate action.

Keywords:   compassion, freedom, physical limitations, emotional limitations, self-reports, contemplative study

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