A Particularly Universal Love

First Things. (August 1, 2011.)

Does particularism really mean that universalist empathy “vanishes”? Does having a special love for one’s own people automatically preclude loving others? In other words, is the only possible interaction between universalism and particularism a zero-sum game? Sucharov’s article makes sense only under the assumption that this is the case.

But love and empathy don’t have to work that way. Whoever you are, dear reader (unless you are one of my two brothers), I love my mother more than I love your mother. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have any empathy for your mother. If Sucharov wishes to argue that particularism—the special love of those close to us—is an enemy of universal empathy, then I must ask: Does she really have no more empathy for her own mother than for mine? Or would she, in an ideal world, establish a uniform empathy quota for every person on earth?

Read article at First Things >>