Compassion vs. Empathy

By Jaxson

Main Difference

The main difference between Compassion and Empathy is that the Compassion is a love and Empathy is a capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing

  • Compassion

    Compassion motivates people to go out of their way to help the physical, mental or emotional pains of another and themselves. Compassion is often regarded as having sensitivity, an emotional aspect to suffering, though when based on cerebral notions such as fairness, justice, and interdependence, it may be considered rational in nature and its application understood as an activity also based on sound judgment. There is also an aspect of equal dimension, such that individual’s compassion is often given a property of “depth”, “vigour”, or “passion”. The etymology of “compassion” is Latin, meaning “co-suffering.” Compassion involves “feeling for another” and is a precursor to empathy, the “feeling as another” capacity for better person centered acts of active compassion; in common parlance active compassion is the desire to alleviate another’s suffering.

    Compassion involves allowing ourselves to be moved by suffering, and experiencing the motivation to help alleviate and prevent it. An act of compassion is defined by its helpfulness. Qualities of compassion are patience and wisdom; kindness and perseverance; warmth and resolve. It is often, though not inevitably, the key component in what manifests in the social context as altruism. Expression of compassion is prone to be hierarchical, paternalistic and controlling in responses. Difference between sympathy and compassion is that the former responds to suffering with sorrow and concern while the latter responds with warmth and care.

    The English noun compassion, meaning to love together with, comes from Latin. Its prefix com- comes directly from com, an archaic version of the Latin preposition and affix cum (= with); the -passion segment is derived from passus, past participle of the deponent verb patior, patī, passus sum. Compassion is thus related in origin, form and meaning to the English noun patient (= one who suffers), from patiens, present participle of the same patior, and is akin to the Greek verb πάσχειν (= paskhein, to suffer) and to its cognate noun πάθος (= pathos). Ranked a great virtue in numerous philosophies, compassion is considered in almost all the major religious traditions as among the greatest of virtues.

  • Empathy

    Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference, that is, the capacity to place oneself in another’s position. There are many definitions for empathy that encompass a broad range of emotional states. Types of empathy include cognitive empathy, emotional empathy, and somatic empathy.

  • Compassion (noun)

    Deep awareness of the suffering of another, coupled with the wish to relieve it.

  • Compassion (verb)

    To pity.

  • Empathy (noun)

    Identification with or understanding of the thoughts, feelings, or emotional state of another person.

    “She had a lot of empathy for her neighbor; she knew what it was like to lose a parent too.”

  • Empathy (noun)

    Capacity to understand another person’s point of view or the result of such understanding.

  • Empathy (noun)

    A paranormal ability to psychically read another person’s emotions.

  • Compassion (noun)

    sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others

    “the victims should be treated with compassion”

Oxford Dictionary

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