Enduring Virtues

If I may, a mapping (inspired by the virtuous and public work of Kathleen Fitzgerald in Generous Thinking) and inspired by some thoughts on the cardinal and digital virtues . . . a foray into the Christian virtues of faith, hope and charity.

Faith is about bringing the best of the past to the listening situation (we trust there is some value in what has gone on before, it's a belief that grounds our commitment) and hope is about taking the best from the listening situation and projecting it into the future (we expect that good will follow). Caritas (charity or love) is being mindful of the power dynamics in each listening situation. Care is of the present.

Faith and hope belong to the world of affect. Care is of the intellect. It requires judgment and assessment. It weighs. It is the judicious application of critique.

In the context of the discussion in Generous Thinking the question arises as to the alignment of empathy with these orientations to the communication situation. Inspired by the work of Paul Bloom (see Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion for his take on the good of parenting as being outside the realm of empathy) and mindful of his discussion of "cognitive empathy," I would suggest that empathetic understanding or care involves a temporal folding: bringing into the present space both a historical sensitivity (being attuned to what people value in the past) and a teleological bent (a watchfulness of what desires propel communicative encounters). Care is not so much being open to the feelings of other people in sense of the Adam Smith's sympathy, a type of empathy which Bloom argues against (and he distinguishes this from "cognitive empathy"). Care or "cognitive empathy" is a receptivity to the fault lines between hope and faith that run through any sense of self and more so in the relations of self and other. Care understands story as story: the past (barbaric or edenic) as abandoned by progress; the apocalyptic future ushering in utopia or nightmares. Care or "cognitive empathy" would thus recognize and acknowledge affect and attempt to trace its origins and where it might lead.

1 Corinthians 13:13
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

And so for day 2113