It might also be of little help to other people because experiencing others’ pain is exhausting and leads to burnout. This issue is explored in the Buddhist literature on morality. Consider the life of a bodhisattva, an enlightened person who vows not to pass into Nirvana, choosing instead to stay in the normal cycle of life and death to help the masses. How is a bodhisattva to live? In Consequences of Compassion (2009) Charles Goodman notes the distinction in Buddhists texts between “sentimental compassion,” which corresponds to empathy, and “great compassion,” which involves love for others without empathetic attachment or distress. Sentimental compassion is to be avoided, as it “exhausts the bodhisattva.” Goodman defends great compassion, which is more distanced and reserved and can be sustained indefinitely.
Although the trend when explaining emotions from a historical point of view is to focus on adaptations, an alternative is simply to identify the traits that are present in a certain range of species because of their shared ancestry. According to Paul Griffiths, some emotions should be identified and then classified in this way (1997, 2004). This classification creates a psychological category, which Griffiths terms the affect program emotions : surprise, anger, fear, sadness, joy, and disgust. In Griffiths' theory, the other emotions belong to different categories—the higher-cognitive emotions and the socially constructed emotions—and in some cases a single vernacular term, for example, anger, will have instances that belong to different categories. Affect programs are explained further in section 4 .