The Battle for Compassion: Ethics in an Apathetic Universe
Six hundred years after Copernicus presented his revolutionary and heretical heliocentric theory, a sunset can still look unexpectedly new. What if the fate of our world depended on a similar shift in perspective?
The threats to our existence and the persistence of intense suffering are closely intertwined issues with similar underlying causes. Addressing them honestly requires us to reflect deeply and detachedly on who we are, probe the boundaries of ethical thinking, and ask some really big questions. What are the basic forces driving our species' trajectory, and where are they leading us? What really matters at the most fundamental level? And what, consequently, would it realistically take for us to align our world with what matters and preserve a future worth living in?
These questions recur as we go through life, experience bliss and pain, the passing of time, the kindness and cruelty of our fellow humans, and the monotony of routine and the shock of unanticipated change.
This book is a reflection on these pivotal questions and an attempt to offer some answers. While our instincts usually serve us well in our daily lives, they have also created a terrible mess of our world.
Just as the beauty of a sunset blinds us to the actual mechanics of the phenomenon, our illusions and preconceptions subtly but significantly distort our understanding of the nature of our relationship to the world and hide a larger sense of meaning. These pages look at the human condition and explore the relationship between the subjective and objective aspects of it, i.e. how things actually feel and the physical reality dictating it all. Ideally, by shifting the perspective from which we understand our existence, we may find a way to reconcile our desire to enjoy life in an intuitive way with these existential considerations, and use this understanding to have a positive impact on the world.