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date: 13 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Two distinctions are introduced that were not previously explicit in the literature on compassion, which might clarify what is being studied and encourage attention to forms of compassion that have been largely ignored. The first distinction is whether the target of the compassionate behavior is proximal (e.g., seeing someone fall down, badly scraping his or her knee) or distal (e.g., someone not directly observed who might be injured now or in the future). Proximal is immediate, remedial if possible for the suffering witnessed; distal prevents harm in the future from occurring. The second set of distinctions refers to whether the compassion is empathic, involves action, or is an aspiration.

Keywords: global compassion, suffering, emotion, emotional resonance, aspirational compassion, empathic compassion, action compassion, familial compassion, global compassion, proximal compassion, distal compassion, impermanence

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