What is a Merciful Heart? Affective-Motivational Aspects of the Second Love Command

Faith and Philosophy 34 (3):298-320 (2017)
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In this paper, I argue that Christ’s second love command implies not only that people’s volitions and actions be Christ-like, but also that their affective-motivational dispositions be Christ-like. More specifically, I argue that the command implies that people have aretaic obligations to strive to cultivate a merciful heart with the kind of affective depth described by St. Isaac of Syria in his 71st ascetical homily—i.e., one that is disposed to becoming inflamed, such that it is gripped by “strong and vehement mercy.”
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