Human care for the universe and for other life, typically human.
Any care motivated by empathy for the target being.
The result of self-care, played forward.
“Nothing is more important than empathy for another human being’s suffering. Nothing—not career, not wealth, not intelligence, certainly not status. We have to feel for one another if we’re going to survive with dignity.”
If you existed alone in the universe, there would be no need for ethics and your heart could be a cold, hard stone. Caring is the heart of ethics, and ethical decision-making. It is scarcely possible to be truly ethical and yet unconcerned with the welfare of others. That is because ethics is ultimately about good relations with other people.
It is easier to love “humanity” than to love people. People who consider themselves ethical and yet lack a caring attitude toward individuals tend to treat others as instruments of their will. They rarely feel an obligation to be honest, loyal, fair or respectful except insofar as it is prudent for them to do so, a disposition which itself hints at duplicity and a lack of integrity. A person who really cares feels an emotional response to both the pain and pleasure of others.
Of course, sometimes we must hurt those we truly care for, and some decisions while quite ethical, do cause pain. But one should consciously cause no more harm than is reasonably necessary to perform one’s duties.
The highest form of caring is the honest expression of benevolence, or altruism. (This is not to be confused with strategic charity. ‘Gifts’ to charities to advance personal interests aren’t gifts, they’re investments or tax write-offs.)