Democratic Education and Compassion

  • Nuraan DavidsEmail author
  • Yusef Waghid


In this chapter, we analyse compassion as an emotive action in relation to democratic education—by paying specific attention to the student–supervisor relationship in relation to doctoral studies. We commence by providing insights into the types of challenges doctoral students typically present during their studies—highlighting the reality that for many of them, the external constraints brought about through socio-economic constraints and political strife both at home in their host countries often outweigh the internal demands of doctoral studies. For this reason, we argue that doctoral supervision cannot be limited to a reliance on constructions of rational argumentation and analyses, but necessarily involves emotive interactions seeped in capacities for compassionate action. Drawing on the seminal ideas of Martha Nussbaum, we show, firstly, that compassion can be construed as an emotive judgement; secondly, acting compassionately is tantamount to recognising the vulnerabilities of others and to do something about changing unsatisfactory human conditions; and thirdly, compassionate action is about enhancing democratic relations among people that can cultivate human flourishing.


Compassion Democratic iteration Human flourishing Human vulnerability 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Education Policy StudiesStellenbosch UniversityStellenboschSouth Africa
  2. 2.Faculty of EducationStellenbosch UniversityStellenboschSouth Africa

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