Zusammenfassung / Summary
According to Emmanuel Lévinas, the question of the nature of compassion is posed most acutely when the self is mercilessly confronted with the suffering and unsettling nakedness of the face of the Other. Many suppose that their compassion compels them to kill in the name of mercy. Lévinas, however, argues that compassion consists in persistent waiting, despite the crass epiphany of that which causes revulsion. This waiting finds its expression in com-passio. Compassion means perseverance precisely in the face of the behemoth of the story of the Other. This waiting, however, is by no means a matter of simple passivity. True compassion must be enacted. Because in compassion the suffering of the stranger becomes one’s own suffering, one becomes aware of the fact that it should not exist at all. The term “compassion“, however, cannot be used to articulate that which is intended by those who kill out of ‘compassion’. The reason why “compassion” cannot be applied to killing out of ‘compassion’ is that compassion is a figure of con-vivere.