Hermann Cohen presents compassion (or pity) as being an emotion peculiar to religion. But what is compassion? This article argues that, despite polemicizing against the Stoics' theory of emotions, the way Cohen presents compassion commits him to a cognitivist theory of compassion very close to the Stoics' in which compassion consists in or follows on certain kinds of judgments. In doing so, this article shows that Cohen (1) anticipates the neo-Stoic emotional theory of Martha Nussbaum, and (2) solves a problem regarding the role of emotions in action in Kantian ethical theory.
Hermann Cohen on Compassion: A Cognitivist Take on the Peculiarly Religious Emotion
BENJAMIN RICCIARDI recently received his PhD at Northwestern University in Jewish Philosophy from the Department of Religious Studies. His dissertation analyzed the weekday Amidah as a response to the problem of evil.
Benjamin Cleveland Ricciardi; Hermann Cohen on Compassion: A Cognitivist Take on the Peculiarly Religious Emotion. Journal of Jewish Ethics 1 December 2019; 5 (2): 207–227. doi: https://doi.org/10.5325/jjewiethi.5.2.0207
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