|Path Home: Empathy, Altruism and Agape | Presenters or Itinerary
Contemporary accounts of the body often depict the body as an intricate system of coded genetic information that governs its form, capacities and behaviors. The distinction between mechanism and organism no longer suffices to describe corporeality. In effect, the body as a haptic field (what can be touched) has been dematerialized. The presocratic philosopher Pythagoras who thought that numbers must be the elements of everything prefigured this position. The body thus understood is divorced from pain and suffering.
But the body is not only the ensemble of its mathematizable processes. It is also the subject of experience, a sensorium that can feel with the other. The pain of the other can be empathically engaged, experienced as an imperative that may lead to choosing to give oneself over to relieving the others suffering. Such acts may be radically self-sacrificial lasting over a considerable time period or may involve less difficult tasks. Radical altruism is more likely to spur others to undertake comparable actions and can be seen as a visceral engagement in the interest of ameliorating the suffering of others.
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