Panempathy

Characteristic particularly of those religious movements indigenous to or emerging out of India, and quite especially of Jainism, is an extremely high degree of “panempathy”: i.e of empathic sympathy with all those suffering beings who have come into existence without being asked or desiring to. Indian spirituality goes out to meet each living being with a gesture of pity and regret:   ‘unfortunately you exist; may you cease to exist without having to be born and die once again; may those concatenations of cause and effect which reach back deep into the past and stretch forward into an unforeseeable future not manifest themselves,  once again, as a being susceptible of suffering.

Antinatalism is the secular consummation of the religious aspiration to quit the cycle of birth and rebirth. Instead of being born again, and then dying again (regardless of the various different conceptions of the soul with which these may be associated) antinatalist moral theory argues rather for simply ceasing to forge new links in the àChain of Procreations.

An example of the occidental form of panempathy is provided by Chateaubriand’s story “René”, the protagonist of which does not allow himself to be blinded by the light of the world: “Looking at the lights blazing in people’s apartments, I transposed myself mentally into the world of pains and joys that they illuminated.” (Chateaubriand, Atala)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.