19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century, No 15 (2012)

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Species of Compassion: Aesthetics, Anaesthetics, and Pain in the Physiological Laboratory

Rob Boddice


This essay explores the interplay of different species of compassion with regard to physiological practices in the final decades of the nineteenth century. Drawing on the lexicon from which ideals of late-Victorian compassion were formed, it illustrates their contested nature, demonstrating how physiologists developed their own concepts of compassion based on the theories of Darwin and Spencer. Within this purview, the essay examines the historical specificity of antivivisectionist compassion as well as ways in which pain in the laboratory was conceptualized, experienced, and managed ethically.

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