empathy vs sympathy

Herbert Spencer 1851

"The ability to derive pleasure from seeing pleasure, involves the liability to derive pain from seeing pain.

Sympathy prevents its possessor from inflicting pain, that he may avoid pain himself, and tempts him to give happiness that he may have happiness.

It is the aim of that work to show that the proper regulation of our conduct to one another, is secured by means of a faculty whose function it is to excite in each being the emotions displayed by surrounding ones - a faculty which awakens a like state of sentiment, or, as he terms it, "a fellow feeling with the passions of others" - the faculty, in short, which we commonly call sympathy.

As illustrations of the mode in which this agent acts, Adam Smith quotes:

"Persons of delicate fibres, and weak constitution of body, complain that in looking on the sores and ulcers which are exposed by beggars in the streets, they are apt to feel an itching or uneasy sensation in the corresponding part of their own bodies."

"Men of most robust make observe, that in looking upon sore eyes they often feel a very sensible soreness in their own."

"Our joy for the deliverance of those heroes of tragedy or romance who interest us, is as sincere as our grief for their distress, and our fellow-feeling for their misery, is not more real than that for their happiness."

"We blush for the impudence and rudeness of another, though he himself appears to have no sense of the impropriety of his behaviour."

Adam Smith, Theory of Moral Sentiments

We have all experienced the uncomfortable feeling of shame produced by the blunders and confusion of a nervous speaker; and at some time or other been put into a horrible tremor on seeing another at the edge of a precipice.

The converse action of the faculty is equally observable.

We find ourselves unable to avoid joining in the merriment of our friends.

Sympathy must be considered as a sort of substitution by which we are put into the place of another man, and affected as he is affected.

Adam Smith perceived the sentiment of justice as a sympathetic affection of the instinct of personal rights - a sort of reflex function.

Here lies the explanation of those qualms of conscience, as we call them, felt by men who have committed dishonest actions.

It is through this instrumentality that we receive satisfaction on paying another what is due to him.

These faculties originate the indignation narratives of political oppression excite in us like the gnashing of the teeth with which we read of the slave-dealer's barbarities.

Those who have the strongest sense of their own rights, will have the strongest sense of the rights of their neighbours.

The first illustration that suggests itself is afforded by the Society of Friends.

Amongst lunatic asylums, the York Retreat was one of the first, if not the first, in which a non-coercive treatment of the insane was adopted.
They were Quakers too, who years ago began publicly to exclaim against the injustice as well as the cruelty of war.

Conversely, we find that those who have not a strong sense of what is just to themselves, are likewise deficient in a sense of what is just to their fellow men.

As one of our living writers puts it - the tyrant is nothing but a slave turned inside out.

That "emancipated slaves exceed all other owners (of slaves) in cruelty and oppression," is a truth established on numerous authorities.

Sympathy and instinct of rights do not always co-exist in equal strength any more than other faculties do.

If devoid of sympathy, it is possible for a man who has a sufficient impulse to assert his own claims, to show no corresponding respect for claims of others.

Our sentiment of justice is really due to a sympathetic excitement of impulse.

Only by the sympathetic excitement of it, is a desire to behave equitably to others awakened; and when sympathy is absent such a desire is impossible.

No faculty whatever will grow, save by the performance of its special function - the intellect by perceiving and thinking; a moral sentiment.

Then, none will be hindered from duly unfolding their natures; for whilst every one maintains his own claims, he will respect the like claims of others.

For the first time in the history of the world, there will exist beings whose individualities can be expanded in all directions."

vicariously experiencing emotions

unique library index

This web site is not a commercial web site and is presented for educational purposes only.

This website defines a new perspective with which to engage reality to which its author adheres. The author feels that the falsification of reality outside personal experience has forged a populace unable to discern propaganda from reality and that this has been done purposefully by an international corporate cartel through their agents who wish to foist a corrupt version of reality on the human race. Religious intolerance occurs when any group refuses to tolerate religious practices, religious beliefs or persons due to their religious ideology. This web site marks the founding of a system of philosophy named The Truth of the Way of the Lumière Infinie - a rational gnostic mystery religion based on reason which requires no leap of faith, accepts no tithes, has no supreme leader, no church buildings and in which each and every individual is encouraged to develop a personal relation with the Creator and Sustainer through the pursuit of the knowledge of reality in the hope of curing the spiritual corruption that has enveloped the human spirit. The tenets of the Truth of the Way of the Lumière Infinie are spelled out in detail on this web site by the author. Violent acts against individuals due to their religious beliefs in America is considered a "hate crime."

This web site in no way condones violence. To the contrary the intent here is to reduce the violence that is already occurring due to the international corporate cartels desire to control the human race. The international corporate cartel already controls the world economic system, corporate media worldwide, the global industrial military entertainment complex and is responsible for the collapse of morals, the elevation of self-centered behavior and the destruction of global ecosystems. Civilization is based on co÷peration. Co÷peration does not occur at the point of a gun.

American social mores and values have declined precipitously over the last century as the corrupt international cartel has garnered more and more power. This power rests in the ability to deceive the populace in general through corporate media by pressing emotional buttons which have been preprogrammed into the population through prior corporate media psychological operations. The results have been the destruction of the family and the destruction of social structures that do not adhere to the corrupt international elites vision of a perfect world. Through distraction and coercion the direction of thought of the bulk of the population has been directed toward solutions proposed by the corrupt international elite that further consolidates their power and which further their purposes.

All views and opinions presented on this web site are the views and opinions of individual human men and women that, through their writings, showed the capacity for intelligent, reasonable, rational, insightful and unpopular thought. All factual information presented on this web site is believed to be true and accurate and is presented as originally presented in print media which may or may not have originally presented the facts truthfully. Opinion and thoughts have been adapted, edited, corrected, redacted, combined, added to, re-edited and re-corrected as nearly all opinion and thought has been throughout time but has been done so in the spirit of the original writer with the intent of making his or her thoughts and opinions clearer and relevant to the reader in the present time.

Fair Use Notice
This site may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of criminal justice, human rights, political, economic, democratic, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information see: If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Dedicated to the establishment of knowledge, truth, justice and a clear understanding of reality as the American way!
Copyright © Lawrence Turner
All Rights Reserved