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Updated on August 9, 2012

In this hub I will try to explain the essence of the word pathetic, pathology, passion, pain and all those who have their roots in the word pathos. The old Greeks have used the word pathos to name the lowest emotions and passions in man, by which they meant on the illogical parts of the soul. Pathetic as an instrument in nowadays often used towake up those lowest falsely-gentle feelings in you, to grab you with it’s pawn, drag you to a world in which you will know how vulnerable you are and then, by need, starts to manipulate you or simply leaves you there with your own vulnerability. Pathetic behavior is able to accomplish its goal helped by the pity of another person: pity is like an engine that helps pathetic behavior to move on and succeed. When we see a homeless guy on the street we pity him, sympathize with him, but that’s all because we are afraid of uncertainty, we fear that one day we might end up just like him, that we could, by some strange coincidence, have already been in his place. If we sink deep into our subconscious we can see that it is the most sincere reason for pity. In every case, the man who pities another should realize that he does so because he is the one in whom is the sense of pity present, and that means that he owns that feeling, not vice versa. He owns that feeling just like he owns his radio receiver and he can get rid of it any moment and stay the same person that he was before. That feeling of pity is a part of us, it is just a complex mosaic of neurons which we can disjoin and assemble and combine whenever and however we want. But people wrongly think that they are part of those feelings, that the feeling owns them and that is why they say “it is stronger than me!” – of course, they are not just saying that without a reason: as I’ve said before, the old Greek word pathos nominates the lowest feelings in man, and a feeling that is lower is also stronger! Our only “feelings” that are lower than pathos are those physiological needs, like need for food, drink, sleep, toilet, and sex. As the feeling is lower it is closer to what we call “need”. So, pathos and its effects are the lowest feelings and they are just a little bit above “needs” but are clearly separated from those needs. It doesn’t mean that a pathetically behaving man is very low, because we have even lower needs – like those of food, water, sex and they are a sort of “landmarks” for everyday life. But, that doesn’t mean that those “landmarks” should be our goals, since you can do a lot of things between two meals. Man who is behaving pathetically, or the one who is not resistant to others behaving that way, doesn’t have to be false and a liar, he just might be spiritually undeveloped.

False pathetical behavior occurs, for example, when a presidential candidate kisses babies in front of cameras, gives sweets to children, shakes hands with cripples and crippled peasants and it is all in favor of potential rating on upcoming elections. In politics, pathos goes hand in hand with demagogy, it happens when somebody in parliament tells a sad, moving and nationally-passionate story which has nothing to do with anything and then he asks for people to do his bidding. Those people always count on other peoples’ weakness towards pathetic stories. And it is not a mistake they do so, because pathos has a great magical power in interpersonal relationships. When I say magical, I think of magic as an act taken to achieve a movement in our favor and in this case it is the manipulation of masses or single people. To achieve that, you must know what is basic (lowest) in men and control them by manipulating that part of them. For example, if you are passing through the dessert in a caravan and you run across a very, very thirsty lone man you will be able to blackmail him, make him do whatever you want him to do just so he could get a sip of water which you have plenty of. Of course, the needs of people in society are more social than the need of that overly thirsty man.

The nature of pathetic is to be blackmail-like. False pathetic is the one that is aware of it’s nature and it’s possible effects, and “true”, or should I say, unconscious pathetic can produce the same effects but is unaware of them.

Sympathy (affinity) is also connected to pathetic because they both deal with feelings, but there is a difference. The first association to word “sympathy” could be symbiosis. Symbiosis is a congregation in which two biologically defined creatures live with mutual benefits. Sympathy can be linked to symbiosis, but pathetic is linked to parasitism – you always have one parasite that is stealing the food and water from nature through it’s host, whom he gradually destroys. Sympathy exists only when you like the other person or social group, when you like them because of their value, being either physical, emotional or intellectual.

Sympathy appears in many people and has different reasons. In other words: each “sympathy” has it’s own fundament, roots and grows differently. On the other hand, pathetic always has the same roots – its roots are in men’s lowest feelings, and is able to sustain itself because of the fuel, and that fuel is - our pity. One thing more: sympathy can grow into something more and develop into something greater (but can also collapse and become suffering). But, pathetic cannot grow and cannot become something greater: if you answer positively to it you will just fulfill the vanity of the pathetically behaving person, and nothing more. If you answer negatively to it you will bring suffering to the person. In other words, pathetic is a dead-end street, and that is the main difference between pathetic and sympathy.

All people think that pathetic means miserable, but it is not so, and we become surprised when we see how much power over us has that which is the lowest in us. We are unable to watch pathetic behavior without feeling at least a little bit of compassion and pity, especially if the acting is so well that it makes us think it is the reality. It is of no use to laugh and mock at the pathetically behaving person, since it still affects us even if we deny that. It is of no use to turn our heads and pretend that we do not see, because living in denial doesn’t help. Don’t pretend that you are enlightened, and don’t try to reach to the sky with an average jump. Pathos cannot be uprooted since it is our root, but if pathetic behavior needs to be present in society, then we should at least give it the position it deserves. At the end, the word pathos is used for the lowest in us. Eventually, it can be useful to play along with pathetical behavior, but that behavior shouldn’t be raised to stardom, because the feeling of pity is not the attribute of gods nor gods’ delegates. Sincerely, if I saw a lonely and abandoned puppy on the street, I might take him home, feed him and try to find somebody to take care of him, and I wouldn’t do that out of pity but because it’s presence makes me happy and because that puppy looked interesting to me, but not because I felt some pity in any moment.


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