Hmmm - I'll split that into two parts which don't necessarily have a lot to do with each other.
(Apologies to Tilt - didn't mean to hijack the thread!)
kirk5a wrote:Hi Kim. Thanks for the expansion on that. It still says though, that compassion is an "abstraction."
"It"? My expansion or the original quote? I'm not sure it matters, anyway, since it seems to me that (in Buddhist terms) an 'abstraction' is as real as a brick - one comes through the mind sense-door and one through other sense-doors (touch, sight, etc).
And Terry Pratchett's terms are not so different: he says we make our own reality and that Justice is exactly as real as we make it.
(There is another story, by a different author, which makes the same point in reverse. In it, a subway train is hijacked by the Devil and pulls into Hell Central Station. Passengers are herded towards the Gates of Hell, weeping and wailing ... until one guy says, 'this is totally unbelievable' and manages to laugh at it, whereupon Hell falls to pieces in front of their eyes and everyone finds themselves back on the train and, soon, pulling into London Central Station. So far so good, but the same guy looks at the grand public buildings of London and starts to laugh again ... and London starts falling to bits in the same way.)
Even if everyone was a die-hard reductionist, they would find, to their consternation, that compassion arose from time to time anyway.
If I refuse to recognise my evil side, refuse to feed its impulses by acting on them, they will dwindle away. So we are taught.
Similarly, if I refuse to acknowledge the existence of compassion, it will dwindle away. In such ways do human monsters (Hannibal Lectors, for instance) create themselves.
But, quite independently of that reasoning, we could also go straight back to Mr Pratchett and the first part of my answer and acknowledge that Justice (or Compassion) does only exist for so long as we believe in it.