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Empathy beyond the In-Group

Stoic Universalism and Augustinian Neighbor-Love

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Recent empirical work underscores the centrality of empathy to generating genuinely altruistic motivation, while also emphasizing the natural limits of empathy. Both the ancient Stoics and Augustine seek to expand the scope of moral concern, but in distinct ways that we can now describe as focused on tempering empathetic personal distress, on the one hand, and heightening empathetic concern, on the other. Contemporary empirical research can help us determine where their respective practical strategies genuinely conflict, and where they are simply focused on overcoming distinct challenges to the extension of moral concern. Meanwhile, considering the debates between Augustine and the Stoics can help us grasp the significance of the conflicts that remain, and the contemplative and liturgical practices that they employed in emotion management can help to generate and refine a vital empirical research agenda for the future.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2015

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  • Philosophy, Theology and the Sciences (PTSc) is a new peer-reviewed biannual journal which provides a platform for constructive and critical interactions between the natural sciences in all their varieties (from physics and biology to psychology, anthropology and social science) and the fields of contemporary philosophy and theology. It invites scholars, religious or non-religious, to participate in that endeavor. The journal provides the rare opportunity to examine together the truth claims found in theology, philosophy, and the sciences, as well as the methods found in each disciplines and the meanings derived from them. Each issue will have a topical focus.

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