The Capacity to Care

“We are capable of two quite different experiences: call them the ‘I’ and the ‘Me’. I am both subject and object. I feel my feelings as only I can feel them. That is the ‘I’ as subject. But I can also stand outside my feelings and pass critical judgement on them. That is the ‘Me’ as object. Standing outside, ‘I’ take into account other factors: the feelings of others, the likely consequences of my deeds, the duties and responsibilities I carry and so on. This means that humans are capable of second-order evaluations. Like other animals, we have drives and desires. But unlike any other animal, we can ask: is this a desire I should seek to satisfy? Is this a feeling I should act on, or should I refrain from doing so? That ability to step back and see oneself from the outside is what makes us moral agents, capable of understanding that we have duties, obligations and responsibilities to others. Morality is the capacity to care for others. It is a journey beyond the self.”

Morality, Chapter 2, p. 45