Guarding moral boundaries: Shame in early confucianism

Philosophy East and West 54 (2):113-142 (2004)
Abstract
: In response to allegations that China is a "shame culture," scholars of Confucian ethics have made use of new studies in psychology, anthropology, and philosophy that present shame in a more favorable light. These studies contend that shame involves internalization of social moral codes. By adapting these new internal models of shame, Confucian ethicists have attempted to rehabilitate the emphasis on shame in early Confucianism, but in doing so they have inadvertently highlighted the striking absence in early Confucian texts of such prominent shame metaphors as being seen, particularly with genitals exposed. This essay analyzes these visual metaphors for shame, in contrast to contact metaphors, and considers the implications for Confucian ethics that they might be two different types of shame.
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