Robert Wuthnow's Acts of Compassion: Caring for Others and Helping Ourselves PDF

By Robert Wuthnow

ISBN-10: 0691073902

ISBN-13: 9780691073903

ISBN-10: 1400813913

ISBN-13: 9781400813919

Robert Wuthnow unearths that those people who are such a lot taken with acts of compassion aren't any much less individualistic than somebody else--and that people who are the main intensely individualistic aren't any much less fascinated about taking care of others. Robert Wuthnow reveals that people who find themselves such a lot all for acts of compassion are not any much less individualistic than someone else--and that those who find themselves the main intensely individualistic aren't any much less inquisitive about taking good care of others.

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Extra resources for Acts of Compassion: Caring for Others and Helping Ourselves

Sample text

Making sense of why we do things is never easy. When it involves complex motives and several alternative languages for describing these motives, it becomes even more difficult. The various stories Jack Casey tells about his behavior illustrate these difficulties. He is an exceptionally thoughtful, caring, and articulate young man, and yet he develops several narratives about himself that are neither internally consistent nor entirely compatible with one another. He can talk fluently about some of the self-interested reasons why he gives of himself to help others; at the same time, he recognizes the limitations of these reasons.

But there is insufficient evidence. Without a confession from at least one it will be impossible to convict either of them. A surprising thing happens. Both confess! Apparently they are genuine altruists. Each seems to have cared so much for the other that he confessed rather than protecting himself by keeping his mouth shut. But wait, this interlocutor would caution. What you did not realize was that the sheriff is an extraordinarily clever person. With each prisoner he made a separate deal. If you confess and the other guy does not, you will go free and he will receive a sentence of ten years in jail.

I wound up playing a very small part—a very small part. One person had been thrown free and wasn’t injured, so I just went over and stayed with her. And in less than a minute and a half the police and the ambulances were all there. She was standing there in the cold and I just went over and talked to her, found out what was going on, put her in the police car, and let her get warm. It was really something. “And I realized I’d been taking all these classes, but they weren’t enough. I wanted to know that if there was somebody in front of me who needed it I could help them.

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Acts of Compassion: Caring for Others and Helping Ourselves by Robert Wuthnow

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