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The concept of caring is fundamental to our understanding of human nature. A philosophical examination of the concept in a particular context by analytical and phenomenological methods, may help to characterize the responsibilities and potentialities of caring. The concept of caring as applied to nursing has both an activities and an attitudes aspect. The latter is complex in particular, involving cognitive, moral and emotional factors. Attention, perception and recognition of fundamental moral values such as respect for persons are discussed, prior to an attempt to elucidate the emotional components of caring further. Whilst it is evident that liking or affection for a patient may be contingently present in nursing care, perhaps compassion and gratitude may also be generated by the nurse-patient relationship, where certain benefits of understanding can also accrue to the nurse. The development of such relationships implies a long-term caring context, severely at odds with many institutional and economic pressures today.