The Instigator
Pro (for)
3 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points


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Post Voting Period
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after 1 vote the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/15/2016 Category: Religion
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,146 times Debate No: 86608
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (13)
Votes (1)




I believe in the central teachings of Buddhism. I would like to argue that compassion is the most important thing in human existence. Con will take the position that compassion is not the most important aspect in human lives.

Round 1 acceptance
Round 2 opening arguments
Round 3 rebutals
Round 4 closing arguments

Compassion-the intent to use one's skills, resources, knowledge, etc. in ways that are beneficial to all beings

If this debate is well recieved, two more may come on impermanance and reincarnation

I wish my opponent a good match and hope it will be an honest and intelligent debate.


I'll take this :)
Nice to meet you.

We're missing a key definition, though. What do you mean when you say "most important?" In as precise terms as possible, please :)
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for accepting this debate Bound_up, I hope it is a good one. I would just like to recount the format, opening, rebuttal, closing.

I would be glad to give a definition of "most important" and of course you are welcome to challenge it if you disagree.

"Most important"--the thing in a human's life when fulfilled brings the most happiness.

I'll start by describing three levels of compassion: selfish, genuine, and trancendental. Selfish compassion is being compassionate because you believe if you treat others in such a way, the same will come back to you. Genuine compassion is showing compassion for others simply because you know the will be happier. Trancendental compassion is compassion for all beings regardless of circumstance on the basis that this creates a universe in which all beings may be happy.

I feel I must step back a moment and ask, "why is happiness most important?" If you had a million dollars, what use could you find for it. You could buy a house, take care of your family or even give to charity. You can also buy stocks, invest in future technology, and fund projects. Finally can buy off politicians, bully competition, and destroy others work. The first one you increase happiness, but not wealth. The second you increase happiness and wealth. In the third you increase wealth and not happiness. These same scenerios all are in accord with power, fame, physical strength, etc. But the common thread with all of them is they are not good unless they increase happiness. So happiness must be supreme.

I argue compassion is the best way to increase happiness. By heartfeltly caring about and for others we make them happier, and they will most likely reciprocate. Also just caring makes us feel happier as well, giving someone a genuine compliment maked both of us feel better. Finally when we live in a caring universe, made up of compassionate people, we experience the good of happiness with more people, because there is simply more happiness to goaround.


Happiness is a state of mind.

States of mind are the result of complex chemical processes.

The structure of our minds is determined by blind evolution. It chanced upon giving rewards(happiness) to organisms which felt ways(compassion) for their fellows that resulted in greater benefit(reciprocation) for themselves.

The mutation contributed to success, and so has become universal to the brain architecture.

But there's no reason to think that an accidental way of producing happiness is going to be the optimal way to do so.

We have organic features. They provide benefits to us.
Legs --> travel, access to resources
eyes --> superior modeling of environment, and therefore, reactive capabilities
compassion --> reciprocation

But these are accidental hacks by blind evolution. None of them are the best way to achieve the benefits they correspond to. Their very nature makes them exceedingly unlikely to be so.

And so we have artificial transportation (cars, planes, shoes), artificial sight (eyeglasses, telescopes, microscopes), and with sufficient knowledge, we should be able to produce artificial and superior happiness.

It was an accident that made compassion produce happiness. With time, we can improve upon it as we have done upon so many of the other accidents that define our structure, corporeally and cognitively.
Debate Round No. 2


Very interesting argument, and one I didn't expect. First I would like to point out that you did not challenge happiness is the most important thing in human existence, so I am to believe you accept it as the case.

We do have ways to improve things like eyesight and legs, but I would like to examine it. Legs can be replaced wheelchairs etc. and made obsolete cars, planes etc. But eyesight has not been replaced, just enhanced. So our sight is enhanced by telescopes, microscopes etc. but the basic function has not been replaced. Blind people have no use for that stuff and even letting them see still does not replace the basic function of sight. Maybe we can replace eyes one day for everyone, to see infered, etc. but sight is not replaced.

I argue compassion is more like sight than legs. Caring about others is the best way to promote happiness, whether in petson, by phone, television or any other technology.

Now you mention artificial happiness. I will introduce the Buddhist concept of emptiness. This concept says all phenomena are empty. So if I take a drug that makes me happy, maybe when I'm on the drug I will be happy. But lets say I miss a dose and become exceedingly unhappy. This is because I didn't really earn the happiness and am now suffering for pass misdeeds. However if I stop taking the drug and am still happy it is because I was sttl a good person on the drug. Actually I don't need the drug at all. This is because the drug is empty and I am the one behind the phenomena.

If we do not develop compassion, we will fail to be happy because happiness stems from knowing we are in a good world. It is easy to be happy in heaven, but could you still maintain it in the Hell realms. It would be exceedingly difficult. So compassion creates a better world where everyone can be happy. If it is enhanced by brilliant people on television or talking to your family on the phone that is good. But if you watch junk or just yell at your family, maybe not so good.


Pardon, but did you not define "most important" as "the thing in a human's life when fulfilled brings the most happiness?"

I most certainly said that compassion will not produce the most happiness, which by your definition, is equivalent to saying that it's not the "most important" thing in human existence.

I accept your evaluation of happiness as being more akin to eyesight than to legs. I might put them on a continuum from legs, to eyesight, to happiness, such that happiness is even further beyond our ability to hack than is eyesight.

But the principle remains. Whether we happen to have the technology or not right now, some day we may. The "natural" way of producing happiness is a happy accident and is by its nature unlikely to be the BEST way of doing so.

Now you mention empty happiness. I will introduce the concept of evolution.
Once there was an organism with a capacity to affect the well-being of its fellows. It may or may not have done so, and was no happier either way. Then there was a mutation in the genes of a newborn member of its species. The mutation made the newborn act in odd ways. Its brain injected pleasure hormones into its system when it improved the well-being of its fellows. So it did that a lot, and was often in this weird new mutated brain state.

Is this method of producing the "happiness" brain state inherently the best one? Why should it be? Someday we may have sufficient knowledge of the body to affect the structure of the brain, not on accident (as before), but on purpose, and do better on purpose what was once achieved by accident.

Happiness may incidentally correlate with knowing we are in a good world right now. But the actual CAUSE of happiness is affecting brain states.
Having a model of the world that says it's a good world may INDIRECTLY affect that brain state, but there may some day be a way to DIRECTLY affect that brain state.
Or we may find better indirect ways to do so. Either way.
Debate Round No. 3


I will start by addressing why happiness is produced when we feel compassion for others. All of us want to be free from pain and suffering and we want things like friends, family, and good health. If we are to be selfish, we will gain poor family interactions, lose friends, and our health will even suffer due to things like stress and even the possibility of a violent death. When we start to alieve even our own pain and suffering, we will start to be healthier, people may even start to like us more and our family will do better. Then when we start to take care of our families and friends they will start to be healthier and do better in other areas. Then we start doing so for aquantences, strangers, and even enemies. They will start being happier, friendlier, and more productive. Then when we have compassion for all these people they might start reciprocating, making us happier, healthier, and have more friends when we are in need.

The reason compassion is successful, the best way to produce happiness, is because when we are more caring towards the world, the world will tend to reflect that. As people are more productive wealth increases. When people are more likely to step in for strangers conflict decreases. When people look out for one another problems are noticed quicker and are more likely to be fixed. The reason compassion is the best way to produce happiness, even if it is as you say "accidental," is because when people genuinely care about each other, especially beyond race and borders, there are more happiness opportunities to go around for everyone. Thus, I would argue, happiness is not just a mindset, but a shared experience that people can have with each other; and it can be just as simple as giving a warm smile to a stranger who is sad.


Mmm...there's a slight confusion.

You have explained why compassion is beneficial and then pointed out that those benefits contribute to happiness.
That makes compassion a sufficient, but not a necessary condition for happiness, as was your opening point.

You could get those same benefits through manipulation, for example, and whatever happiness comes from having the benefits.

But I know from experience, and observation, that people are happy being compassionate for each other even BEFORE the benefits start to kick in. Their compassion itself is a happy experience, you might say.

Now the CAUSE of that has nothing to do with benefits. The CAUSE is the structure of our brains. And the cause behind that is evolution.
And evolution puts together some incredibly neat stuff, but we've matched and surpassed it (in many, but not all things) in 500 years of science what took better than a billion years of evolution. Give us another hundred or two and we'll get the rest.

Evolution is just inherently not a great way to accomplish things, like happiness. The impressive thing about it is not how good of a designer it is, but how well it works, despite how BAD of a designer it is.

Why claim that an intentional effort can never surpass natural selection of genetic mutation? Why claim that such an effort is inherently "emptier" than said mutation?

But, hey, until we can do that, let compassion reign, eh?
Debate Round No. 4
13 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Philosophy101 2 years ago
Yes of course, anyone can vote
Posted by Bound_Up 2 years ago
Looks like I'm losing...

Am I allowed to message people and ask them to come vote for me?
Posted by Philosophy101 2 years ago
Thanks famousdebater for voting
Posted by famousdebater 2 years ago
I didn't have as much time as I though I'd have so I was only able to give this a short RFD sorry about that guys. The result was pretty objective though.
Posted by Philosophy101 2 years ago
Posted by famousdebater 2 years ago
Will give this a vote tomorrow guys.
Posted by Philosophy101 2 years ago
I've heard of found one book by the Dalai Lama fairly enlightening, it is called How to Practice: The Way to a Meaningful Life.
Posted by Jedd 2 years ago
Whoa m8, thx. Any good websites for a beginner?
Posted by Philosophy101 2 years ago
This was a hard concept for me as well. What I came to learn is the present moment includes past and future. You can think in a year II want to have a book written, just don't try to say I am an accomplished author because the book I write will be good. Or if somewhere along the way you get another opportunity don't think I will pass this up because the book I am writing was a good idea. I think dwelling in the moment is makiing sure your mind is in harmony with the world around you as it currently exists.

Debate as devil's advocate if you want
Posted by Jedd 2 years ago
I'd like to have a chat about Buddhism! Enlighten me!
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by famousdebater 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Con loses by default due to the fact that they fail to meet their BOP. In R1 both Pro's and Con's positions are defined clearly. In order to negate con must prove that compassion is not the most important aspect of human lives. Con argued that compassion was not the main cause of happiness but never argued for what the actually answer was. Since the only answer that I was presented with in the debate was compassion it's the only source of happiness that I can buy. It's either happiness or nothing and since happiness was explained to me (and conceded by Con) as the most important this means that I need a source of happiness to be explained. Pro did this adequately. Con does give reason to cast doubt upon Pro's case however whilst Pro's arguments were mitigated they are still enough to affirm because Con's burden was left unfulfilled throughout the entirety of the debate.