as generous of spirit as empathy

Discussion in 'English Only' started by hly2004, Nov 25, 2007.

  1. hly2004 Banned

    Hi, everyone:

    It's not surprising that animals far less complex than we are would display a trait that's as generous of spirit as empathy, particularly if you decide there's no spirit involved in it at all. Behaviorists often reduce what we call empathy to a mercantile business known as reciprocal altruism.

    Could you explain to me the meaning of ”as generous of spirit as empathy“?

    Best wishes
  2. bibliolept

    bibliolept Senior Member

    Northern California
    AE, Español
    The animals in question display the trait of empathy, a trait that the writer describes as being "generous of spirit."
  3. hly2004 Banned

    Thank you, Bibliloept.
    But, I think "far less complesx" and "to display a trait that's generous of spirit as emphathy" are contradictory, thus it should be "surprising" to us.
  4. Suehil

    Suehil Medemod

    Tillou, France
    British English
    Yes, until you read the rest of the passage. The writer is saying that it is not surprising if you consider empathy to be only 'reciprocal altruism'
  5. nzfauna

    nzfauna Senior Member

    Wellington, New Zealand
    New Zealand, English
    The debate is whether animals have a spirit. Some people say that animals don't have a spirit, so they cannot therefore possess empathy.
  6. Suehil

    Suehil Medemod

    Tillou, France
    British English
    The passage says 'a trait as generous of spirit as empathy' and then goes on to say that what is seen as empathy has nothing to do with generosity - that it is purely self-interest and even animals can demonstrate it.
    In this case the argument about whether animals have spirit is entirely beside the point.
  7. hly2004 Banned

    Thank you all:)
  8. AngelEyes

    AngelEyes Senior Member

    English - United States
    My contribution:

    It's not surprising that you'd believe animals would seem to display emotions and understanding that appear to make them like us (more human-like) - especially when you accept the fact that what you're witnessing doesn't involve any kind of spirit at all.

    They're saying here that you may think you're seeing the animals show feeelings, but once you accept the fact that it's an illusion you're seeing, you'll be able to intellectually find the reason it looks this way.

    First, we must accept the truth that there's no spirit involved at all in the animal world. They're telling us it's a fantasy to believe this.


    Because the so-called experts in this field have decided that this "emotional bond" our animals seem to form with us is nothing more than a mirrored response to what we're sending out to them.

    It's become a popularized notion that they "feel" as we humans feel. But it's our mistake to interpret their reactions to us in "human" terms.

    I think the addition of the word "mercantile" is a cynical comment geared to the billion-dollar industry surrounding the care and nurturing of our pets, and how we don't hesitate to spend lots of money on these animals we've convinced ourselves are more than they really are.

    (I wish there was a snorting smiley available to post here.)

    hly, I agree with you and read this hogwash exactly as you have understood it!

    (Sorry...hogwash is my personal opinion of this so-called expert opinion.)

  9. hly2004 Banned

    I've got it, Thank you, Bibliolept, Suehil, Nzfauna, AngelEyes
    Especially thanks to AngelEyes for your very detailed and great explanation and analysis.

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