How does shame differ from guilt? Empirical psychology has recently offered distinct and seemingly incompatible answers to this question. This article brings together four prominent answers into a cohesive whole. These are that (a) shame differs from guilt in being a social emotion; (b) shame, in contrast to guilt, affects the whole self; (c) shame is linked with ideals, whereas guilt concerns prohibitions and (d) shame is oriented towards the self, guilt towards others. After presenting (...) the relevant empirical evidence, we defend specific interpretations of each of these answers and argue that they are related to four different dimensions of the emotions. This not only allows us to overcome the conclusion that the above criteria are either unrelated or conflicting with one another, it also allows us to tell apart what is constitutive from what is typical of them. -/- . (shrink)
In this paper I address a tension in Samantha Vice’s claim that humility and silence offer effective moral responses to white shame in the wake of South African apartheid. Vice describes these twin virtues using inward-turning language of moral self-repair, but she also acknowledges that this ‘personal, inward directed project’ has relational dimensions. Her failure to explore the relational strand, however, leaves her description of white shame sounding solitary and penitent. -/- My response develops the missing relational dimensions (...) of white shame and humility arguing that this strand, once visible, complicates Vice’s project by (1) challenging her unitary and homogenous view of white identity, and (2) demonstrating the important role vulnerability plays in our understandings of white shame. (shrink)
The evaluations involved in shame are, intuitively at least, of many different sorts. One feels ashamed when seen by others doing something one would prefer doing alone (social shame). One is ashamed because of one’s ugly nose (shame about permanent traits). One feels ashamed of one’s dishonest behavior (moral shame), etc. The variety of evaluations in shame is striking; and it is even more so if one takes a cross-cultural perspective on this emotion. So the (...) difficulty – the “unity problem” of shame- turns out to be the following: is there a common trait shared by all shame evaluations that will allow us to differentiate these evaluations from those that feature in other negative self-reflexive emotions like anger at oneself or self disappointment? Some progress is perhaps accomplished if we say that, in shame, a given trait or behavior is evaluated as degrading or as revealing one’s lack of worth. Still, even if we agree with this last claim, truth is that these answers are less illuminating than we might wish. A theory of shame should surely further elucidate the aspect of one’s identity relevant for shame, namely, the self of shame. In this connexion, philosophers have referred to “self-esteem,” “self-respect” or the “social self,” significantly disagreeing thus on which aspect of one’s identity is at stake in shame. After critically discussing the different solutions to the problem, we offer our own. Shame, we claim, consists in an awareness of a distinctive inability to discharge a commitment that goes with holding self-relevant values. This conception solves the unity problem while illuminating other aspects of this emotion. (shrink)
This article addresses and rebuts the claim that the purpose of the Socratic method is to humiliate, shame, and perplex participants. It clarifies pedagogical and exegetical confusions surrounding the Socratic method, what the Socratic method is, what its epistemological ambitions are, and how the historical Socrates likely viewed it. First, this article explains the Socratic method; second, it clarifies a misunderstanding regarding Socrates' role in intentionally perplexing his interlocutors; third, it discusses two different types of perplexity and relates these (...) to philosophical inquiry and dialectical pedagogy; finally, it refutes the claim that those who use the Socratic method intentionally attempt to shame and humiliate students. (shrink)
The connection between shame, guilt and morality is the topic of many recent debates. A broad tendency consists in attributing a higher moral status and a greater moral relevance to guilt, a claim motivated by arguments that tap into various areas of morality and moral psychology. The Pro-social Argument has it that guilt is, contrary to shame, morally good since it promotes pro-social behaviour. Three other arguments claim that only guilt has the requisite connection to central moral concepts: (...) the Responsibility Argument appeals to the ties between guilt and responsibility, the Autonomy Argument to the heteronomy of shame and the Social Argument to shame's link with reputation. In this paper, we scrutinize these arguments and argue that they cannot support the conclusion that they try to establish. We conclude that a narrow focus on particular criteria and a misconception of shame and guilt have obscured the important roles shame plays in our moral lives. (shrink)
This is a critical study of Martha Nussbaum’s Hiding from Humanity. Central to Nussbaum’s book are arguments against society’s or the state’s using disgust and shame to forward the aims of the criminal law. Patrick Devlin’s appeal to the common man’s disgust to determine what acts of customary morality should be made criminal is an example of how society might use disgust to forward the aims of the criminal law. The use of so-called shaming penalties as alternative sanctions to (...) imprisonment is an example of how society might use shame for this purpose. I argue that despite Nussbaum’s own view to the contrary, her arguments against such uses of disgust and shame are best understood as criticisms of programs of conservative political philosophy like Devlin’s and not of the emotions themselves. (shrink)
This study aims at discovering the essential constituents involved in the experiences of guilt and shame. Guilt concerns a subject’s action or omission of action and has a clear temporal unfolding entailing a moment in which the subject lives in a care-free way. Afterwards, this moment undergoes a reconstruction, in the moment of guilt, which constitutes the moment of negligence. The reconstruction is a comprehensive transformation of one’s attitude with respect to one’s ego; one’s action; the object of guilt (...) and the temporal-existential experience. The main constituents concerning shame are its anchorage in the situation to which it refers; its public side involving the experience of being perceptually objectified; the exclusion of social community; the bodily experience; the revelation of an undesired self; and the genesis of shame in terms of a history of frozen now-ness. The article ends with a comparison between guilt and shame. (shrink)
Shame is notoriously ambivalent. On one hand, it operates as a mechanism of normalization and social exclusion, installing or reinforcing patterns of silence and invisibility; on the other hand, the capacity for shame may be indispensible for ethical life insofar as it attests to the subject’s constitutive relationality and its openness to the provocation of others. Sartre, Levinas and Beauvoir each offer phenomenological analyses of shame in which its basic structure emerges as a feeling of being exposed (...) to others and bound to one’s own identity. For Sartre, shame is an ontological provocation, constitutive of subjectivity as a being-for-Others. For Levinas, ontological shame takes the form of an inability to escape one’s own relation to being; this predicament is altered by the ethical provocation of an Other who puts my freedom in question and commands me to justify myself. For Beauvoir, shame is an effect of oppression, both for the woman whose embodied existence is marked as shameful, and for the beneficiary of colonial domination who feels ashamed of her privilege. For each thinker, shame articulates the temporality of social life in both its promise and its danger. (shrink)
In Remnants of Auschwitz , Giorgio Agamben argues that the hidden structure of subjectivity is shame. In shame, I am consigned to something that cannot be assumed, such that the very thing that makes me a subject also forces me to witness my own desubjectification. Agamben’s ontological account of shame is problematic insofar as it forecloses collective responsibility and collapses the distinction between shame and humiliation. By recontextualizing three of Agamben’s sources – Primo Levi, Robert Antelme (...) and Maurice Blanchot – I develop an alternative account of shame as the structure of intersubjectivity , and of a collective responsibility that is more fundamental than the subject itself. On this basis, I sketch the preliminary outline of a biopolitics of resistance rooted in the ethics of alterity. The intuition driving this approach is that life is never bare ; even in situations of extreme affliction there remains a relation to alterity which provides a starting point for resistance. (shrink)
abstract Shame punishments have become an increasingly popular alternative to traditional punishments, often taking the form of convicted criminals holding signs or sweeping streets with a toothbrush. In her Hiding from Humanity, Martha Nussbaum argues against the use of shame punishments because they contribute to an offender's loss of dignity. However, these concerns are shared already by the courts which also have concerns about the possibility that shaming might damage an offender's dignity. This situation has not led the (...) courts to reject all uses of shaming, but only to accept shaming within certain safeguards. Thus, despite Nussbaum's important reservations against shame punishments, it may still be possible for her to accept shaming within specific parameters such as those set out by the courts that protect the dignity of an offender. As a result, she need not be opposed to the use of legitimate shame punishment. (shrink)
Shame is one of the more painful consequences of loving someone; my beloved’s doing something immoral can cause me to be ashamed of her. The guiding thought behind this paper is that explaining this phenomenon can tell us something about what it means to love. The phenomenon of beloved-induced shame has been largely neglected by philosophers working on shame, most of whom conceive of shame as being a reflexive attitude. Bennett Helm has recently suggested that in (...) order to account for beloved-induced shame, we should deny the reflexivity of shame. After arguing that Helm’s account is inadequate, I proceed to develop an account of beloved-induced shame that rightly preserves its reflexivity. A familiar feature of love is that it involves an evaluative dependence; when I love someone, my well-being depends upon her life’s going well. I argue that loving someone also involves a persistent tendency to believe that her life is going well, in the sense that she is a good person, that she is not prone to wickedness. Lovers are inclined, more strongly than they otherwise would be, to give their beloveds the moral benefit of the doubt. These two features of loving—an evaluative dependence and a persistent tendency to believe in the beloved’s moral goodness—provide the conditions for a lover to experience shame when he discovers that his beloved has morally transgressed. (shrink)
Is shame social? Is it superficial? Is it a morally problematic emotion? Researchers in disciplines as different as psychology, philosophy, and anthropology have thought so. But what is the nature of shame and why are claims regarding its social nature and moral standing interesting and important? Do they tell us anything worthwhile about the value of shame and its potential legal and political applications? -/- In this book, Julien Deonna, Raffaele Rodogno, and Fabrice Teroni propose an original (...) philosophical account of shame aimed at answering these questions. The book begins with a detailed examination of the evidence and arguments that are taken to support what they call the two dogmas about shame: its alleged social nature and its morally dubious character. Their analysis is conducted against the backdrop of a novel account of shame and ultimately leads to the rejection of these two dogmas. On this account, shame involves a specific form of negative evaluation that the subject takes towards herself: a verdict of incapacity with regard to values to which she is attached. One central virtue of the account resides in the subtle manner it clarifies the ways in which the subject's identity is at stake in shame, thus shedding light on many aspects of this complex emotion and allowing for a sophisticated understanding of its moral significance. -/- This philosophical account of shame engages with all the current debates on shame as they are conducted within disciplines as varied as ethics, moral, experimental, developmental and evolutionary psychology, anthropology, legal studies, feminist studies, politics and public polic. (shrink)
This paper outlines what we call a network model of collective emotions. Drawing upon this model, we explore the significance of collective emotions in the Palestine-Israel conflict. We highlight some of the ways in which collective shame, in particular, has contributed to the evolution of this conflict. And we consider some of the obstacles that shame and the pride-restoring narratives to which it gave birth pose to the conflict’s resolution.
Research has paid scant attention to reparative behavior to compensate for unintended wrongdoing or to the role of emotions in doing the right thing. We propose a new approach to investigating reparative behavior by looking at moral emotions and psychological proximity. In this study, we compare the effects of moral emotions (guilt and shame) on the level of compensation for financial harm. We also investigate the role of transgressors’ perceived psychological proximity to the victims of wrongdoing. Our hypotheses were (...) tested through a scenario based questionnaire on a sample of 261 participants. Analyses indicate that (1) guilt has a stronger effect on the level of compensation than shame; (2) psychological proximity influences the level of guilt, shame, and compensation; and (3) shame interacts with psychological proximity to predict compensation, whereas guilt mediates the relationship between psychological proximity and compensation. (shrink)
In this article, we present, assess and give reasons to reject the popular claim that shame is essentially social. We start by presenting several theses which the social claim has motivated in the philosophical literature. All of them, in their own way, regard shame as displaying a structure in which ‘others’ play an essential role. We argue that while all these theses are true of some important families of shame episodes, none of them generalize so as to (...) motivate the conclusion that shame is an essentially social emotion. We consider each thesis in turn, explaining in the process their connections with one another as well as the constraints on a theory of shame they help uncover. Finally, we show how a non-social picture of shame is not only capable of meeting these constraints, but has the further virtue of shedding light on those situations in which others seem to play no role in why we feel shame. (shrink)
Attitudes like shame and contempt seem to be at odds with basic tenets of Kantian moral theory. I argue on the contrary that both attitudes play a central role in Kantian morality. Shame and contempt are attitudes that protect our love of honour, or the esteem we have for ourselves as moral persons. The question arises: how are these attitudes compatible with Kant's claim that all persons deserve respect? I argue that the proper object of shame and (...) contempt is not the humanity within a person, but rather her self-conceit, or the false esteem that competes with love of honour. (shrink)
Three studies tested the idea that people’s cultural worlds are structured in ways that promote and highlight emotions and emotional responses that are beneficial in achieving central goals in their culture. Based on the idea that U.S. Americans strive for competitive individualism, while (Dutch-speaking) Belgians favor a more egalitarian variant of individualism, we predicted that anger and shame, as well as their associated responses, would be beneficial to different extents in these two cultural contexts. A questionnaire study found that (...) cultural practices promote beneficial emotions (anger in the United States, shame in Belgium) and avoid harmful emotions (shame in the United States): Emotional interactions were perceived to occur more or less frequently to the extent that they elicited culturally beneficial or harmful emotions. Similarly, a cultural product analysis showed that popular children’s books from the United States and Belgium tend to portray culturally beneficial emotions more than culturally harmful emotions. Finally, a word association study of the shared cultural meanings surrounding anger and shame provided commensurate evidence at the level of the associated response. In each language network, anger and shame were imbued with meanings that reflected the cultural significance of the emotion: While culturally consistent emotions carried relatively stronger connotations of emotional yielding (e.g., giving in to anger and aggressing against the offender in the United States), culturally inconsistent emotions carried relatively stronger connotations of emotional containment (e.g., a stronger emphasis on controlling anger and moving away from the aggressor in Belgium). (shrink)
Analyzing the ancient Greek point of view concerning anger, shame and justice and a very modern one, one can see, that anger has a regulative function, but shame does as well. Anger puts the other in his place, thereby regulating hierarchies. Shame regulates the social relations of recognition. And both emotions also have an evaluative function, because anger evaluates a situation with regard to a humiliation; shame, with regard to a misdemeanor. In addition, attention has to (...) be paid to the correct molding of these emotions and the correct ways of using them in rearing to be good or just (i.e., in personality formation. (shrink)
Experimental methods and conceptual confusion : philosophy, science, and what emotions really are -- To 'make our voices resonate' or 'to be silent'? : shame as fundamental ontology -- Emotion, cognition, and world -- Shame and world.
Using the machinery of Game Theory, this article analyzes how shame and guilt affect preferences. Based on abundant psychological literature, we posit that the preference ordering of someone who can feel shame (or guilt) must satisfy a number of axioms and prove that it can be represented by a particular utility function. Understanding how shame and guilt work is important to explain why people respect social norms and exhibit prosocial behavior, many times contrary to their material interest.
In this article, I examine the relevance and desirability of shame and guilt to restorative justice conferences. I argue that a careful study of the psychology of shame and guilt reveals that both emotions possess traits that can be desirable and traits that can be undesirable for restoration. More in particular, having presented the aims of restorative justice, the importance of face-to-face conferences in reaching these aims, the emotional dynamics that take place within such conferences, and the relevant (...) parts of the empirical psychology of shame and guilt, I argue that restorative justice practitioners have to take account of a rather more complex picture than it had hitherto been thought. Restorative conferences are not simply about "shame management," though practitioners must certainly avoid shaming and humiliation. Given the nature of shame, guilt, and restorative conferences, it is not possible to provide a single concrete precept applicable to all restorative conferences. The successful holding of conferences depends in large part on the cultural and situational specificities at hand. The latter include among others knowledge of the perceived relations standing between victim and offender as well as the affective specificities of the individuals involved. (shrink)
In his hermeneutic of the self, which he is working out in his Oneself as another , Ricœur writes about the constitutive conditions of conscience as a dimension of the experience of passivity. For the following considerations, I will argue that Ricœur is very right in maintaining the moral impact of the notion of conscience; but if we on the other hand remember older writings by Ricœur like Fallible Man we have to admit that something is missed in the chapter (...) about conscience in Oneself as Another . And that means, that in Oneself as Another he neglects the affective dimension of conscience. This affective dimension is - I think - the notion of shame. Dans Soi-même comme un autre où s'élabore son herméneutique du soi, Paul Ricœur réfléchit sur les conditions constitutives de la conscience comme expérience de la passivité. Pour les considerations suivantes, je souhaiterai montrer que Ricœur a tout à fait raison de plaider pour la dimension morale de la notion de conscience. Mais, d'un autre côté,si l'on se souvient des écrits plus anciens de Ricoeur sur l'Homme faillible , nous sommes tenus d'admettre que, au cours du chapitre sur la conscience dans Soi-même comme un autre , quelque chose est perdu de vue. Nous voulons signifier que, dans ce chapitre, il néglige la dimension affective de la conscience. Cette dimension affective est, nous semble-t-il, la notion de honte.  . (shrink)
Darwin's inner voice -- Living the virtuous life -- Of altruism and free riders -- Knowing our immediate predecessors -- Resurrecting some venerable ancestors -- A natural Garden of Eden -- The positive side of social selection -- Learning morals across the generations -- Work of the moral majority -- Pleistocene ups, downs, and crashes -- Testing the selection-by-reputation hypothesis -- The evolution of morals -- Epilogue: humanity's moral future.
The emotions of shame and guilt have recently appeared in debates concerning legal punishment, in particular in the context of so called shaming and guilting penalties. The bulk of the discussion, however, has focussed on the justification of such penalties. The focus of this article is broader than that. My aim is to offer an analysis of the concept of legal punishment that sheds light on the possible connections between punishing practices such as shaming and guilting penalties, on the (...) one hand, and emotions such as guilt, shame, and perhaps humiliation, on the other. I␣contend that this analysis enhances our understanding of the various theories of punishment that populate this part of criminal law theory and thereby sharpens the critical tools needed to assess them. My general conclusion is that, in different ways, all of the theories we encounter in this area can benefit from paying renewed attention to the nature of the connection between the state’s act of punishing and its expected or perceived emotional effect on the individual. (shrink)
This discussion of pride, shame, and guilt centers on the beliefs involved in the experience of any of these emotions. Through a detailed study, the author demonstrates how these beliefs are alike--in that they are all directed towards the self--and how they differ. The experience of these three emotions are illustrated by examples taken from English literature. These concrete cases supply a context for study and indicate the complexity of the situations in which these emotions usually occur.
On many standard readings, shame is an emotion that in an accentuated manner targets and involves the self in its totality. In shame, the self is affected by a global devaluation: it feels defective, objectionable, condemned. The basic question I wish to raise and discuss is the following: What does the fact that we feel shame tell us about the nature of self? What kind of self is it that is affected in shame?
Shame is a painful emotion concerned with failure to live up to certain standards, norms, or ideals. The subject feels that she falls in the regard of others; she feels watched and exposed. As a result, she feels bad about the person that she is. The most popular view of shame is that someone only feels ashamed if she fails to live up to standards, norms, or ideals that she, herself, accepts. In this paper, I provide support for (...) a different view, according to which shame is about failure to live up to public expectations. Such a view of shame has difficulties explaining why an audience is central to shame, why shame concerns the self as a whole, and why the social rank of someone affects their ability to shame others. These features, I argue, are best explained by reference to the descent of shame in the emotion connected with submission in nonhuman animals. The function of submission—to appease relevant social others—also throws light on the sort of emotion that shame is. From the point of view of other people, a subject who experiences shame at her own failing is someone who is committed to living together with others in a socially sanctioned way. The argument is not that we must understand the nature of shame in terms of what it evolved for, but that its heritage is important to understanding the emotion that shame has become. (shrink)
Would a just society or government absolutely refrain from shaming or humiliating any of its members? "No," says this essay. It describes morally acceptable uses of shame, stigma and disgust as tools of social control in a decent (just) society. These uses involve criminal law, tort law, and informal social norms. The standard of moral acceptability proposed for determining the line is a version of perfectionistic prioritarian consequenstialism. From this standpoint, criticism is developed against Martha Nussbaum's view that to (...) respect the dignity of each person, society absolutely must refrain from certain ways of shaming and humiliating its members and rendering them objects of communal disgust. (shrink)
This essay is a critique of the two chapters on jealousy in Jerome Neu's book A Tear is an Intellectual Thing. The rival — as anobject of both fear and hatred — is of central importance in romantic jealousy, but it is here argued that the role of the rival cannot be fully understood in Neu's account of jealousy and that shame (not noted by Neu) must be seen as central to the concept of jealousy if the role of (...) the rival is to be fully understood. (shrink)
Cheryl Chase has argued that “the problem” of intersex is one of “stigma and trauma, not gender,” as those focused on medical management would have it. Despite frequent references to shame in the critical literature, there has been surprisingly little analysis of shame, or of the disgust that provokes it. This paper investigates the function of disgust in the medical management of intersex and seeks to understand the consequences—material and moral—with respect to the shame it provokes.Conventional ethical (...) approaches may not provide quite the right tools to consider this affective dimension of the medical management of intersex, but we find in Nietzsche's Genealogy of Morality a framework that allows us a profound appreciation of its moral significance (Nietzsche 1887/1998). Understanding doctors' disgust—and the disgust that they promote in parents of those born with atypical anatomies—as a contemporary expression of ressentiment directs us to not focus on the bodies of those born with intersex conditions, which have been the privileged objects of attention both in medical practice and in criticisms of it, but moves us to consider instead the bodies of those whose responses constitute the motivating force for normalizing practices in the first place. (shrink)
Does shame have a limited moral role because it is associated with a loss of self-respect or is it an important emotional support for socially beneficial behaviours? Aristotle supports the latter position. In his ethical theory, he famously claims that shame is a semi-virtue essential in the habituation of moral norms. He clarifies this role in the Rhetoric’s lesser-known distinction between true and conventional shame, which implies human beings make subjective evaluations of those appropriated cultural norms. Importantly, (...) he locates this potential for ethical assessment in friendship and not in public discourse, as he thinks it would be shameless to publicly evaluate moral rules. The article ends by exploring potential critiques to his position and argues that Aristotle’s approach makes shame indispensable for moral progress, even though we might want to consider some limited role for shameless public protest. (shrink)
This paper takes seriously the idea that one person in a workplace could cause a co-worker to feel ashamed without realising it. This is because the most widely accepted conception of shame does not adequately explain the eliciting conditions of that emotion. I begin by setting out what I take to be the most common account of shame. Next, I note what predictions we would make about which situations will elicit shame in a subject were we to (...) embrace that conception. I then show that these predictions are actually false in three cases out of four. A second analysis of shame is proposed as an alternative that makes better predictions about when shame will be elicited than the first account, and can explain more of the relevant phenomena even when the two accounts of shame make thesame prediction about whether the emotion will be elicited in a given scenario. I close with a practical discussion of how this new conception of shame should inform workplace managers who encounter situations in which one worker feels harassed by a colleague and the accused does not understand why her actions made the other worker feel the way they did. (shrink)
Emotion has long been recognized in sociology as crucially important, but most references to it are generalized and vague. In this essay, I nominate shame, specifically, as the premier social emotion. First I review the individualized treatment of shame in psychoanalysis and psychology, and the absence of social context. Then I consider the contributions to the social dimensions of shame by six sociologists (Georg Simmel, Charles Cooley, Norbert Elias, Richard Sennett, Helen Lynd, Erving Goffman) and a psychologist/psychoanalyst (...) (Helen Lewis). I show that Cooley and Lynd, particularly, made contributions to a theory of shame and the social bond. Lewis's idea that shame arises from threats to the bond integrates the contributions of all six sociologists, and points toward future research on emotion, conflict, and alienation/integration. (shrink)
In this paper, we provide a new framework for understanding infant-feeding-related maternal guilt and shame, placing these in the context of feminist theoretical and psychological accounts of the emotions of self-assessment. Whereas breastfeeding advocacy has been critiqued for its perceived role in inducing maternal guilt, we argue that the emotion women often feel surrounding infant feeding may be better conceptualized as shame in its tendency to involve a negative self-assessment—a failure to achieve an idealized notion of good motherhood. (...) Further, we suggest, both formula-feeding and breastfeeding mothers experience shame: the former report feeling that they fail to live up to ideals of womanhood and motherhood, and the latter transgress cultural expectations regarding feminine modesty. The problem, then, is the degree to which mothers are vulnerable to shame generally, regardless of infant feeding practices. As an emotion that is less adaptive and potentially more damaging than guilt, shame ought to be the focus of resistance for both feminists and breastfeeding advocates, who need to work in conjunction with women to oppose this shame by assisting them in constructing their own ideals of good motherhood that incorporate a sense of self-concern. (shrink)
What is the relation of shame to guilt? What are the characteristics that distinguish the two? When we regard them phenomenologically, i.e., in the way that they directly manifest themselves, two features stand out. Guilt and shame imply different relations to the other person. Their relation to language is also distinct. Guilt involves the internalization of the other, not as a specific individual, but rather as an amalgam of parents, elders, and other social and cultural authority figures.i This (...) amalgam of authority figures becomes present as the inner voice of conscience. The sense of guilt arises when we violate its strictures. This occurs even when we are alone—that is, when we act in secret. Even then, there is a certain inner dialogue that occurs in our heads. It may be that we are trying to excuse our conduct or justify it to this voice. It may also happen that we give way to its demands. In either case, the presence of this “voice” of conscience indicates guilt’s dependence on language. With language we have the possibility of the spoken and written norms that formalize the admonitions of our internalized others. Shame, by contrast, usually does require a face-to-face. I am ashamed before the actual other, i.e., before his or her concrete presence. It is this presence, rather than any generalized other, that I internalize.ii There is here a primitive, immediate, pre-linguistic type of empathy at work, one where I regard myself through the other’s presently regarding me. This regard is painful. I do not want this other to see me in my present situation. In contrast to guilt, then, shame requires the real or, at least, the imagined presence of specific others to be activated. In the absence of such others, I can.. (shrink)
Socrates is both the first thoroughgoing moral philosopher and the first to employ irony as a philosophical tool. These innovative and foundational aspects of Socratic philosophy, however, lead to apparent inconsistencies and worrisome interactions. Socrates is charged with making his interlocutors look foolish, arrogant, self-serving, or ignorant. Worse still, he seems aware of these reactions. If Socrates knows his methods stir resentment, why does he continue with them? Furthermore, how should we view irony in light of Socratic ethics? I argue (...) that Socrates uses irony and shame to bring about the desire for moral improvement. Socratic irony is of the riddling variety and the shame that it produces is not intended to belittle the interlocutor’s sense of self. Instead, shame is an appropriate response to the realization that one’s life is unexamined and possibly vicious. Therefore, the real problem with Socratic irony lies not with its use, but its failure rate. (shrink)
: 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. (shrink)
: Few contemporary philosophers discuss the ways in which the emotion of shame may be gendered. This paper addresses this situation, examining Gabriele Taylor's (1985 and 1995) account of genuine vs. false shame. I argue that, by attending to the social pressures placed on many women to conform to a certain vision of femininity, an analysis of the shame to which women may be prone shows that Taylor's account of shame remains incomplete.
The concepts marked by "shame" and "guilt" are analysed briefly, and their merits and demerits as types of moral motivation reviewed. Both concepts appear as inexpellable from human life, although different cultures may weigh them differently and give them different contents. Each has certain advantages and disadvantages, but both may be paralysing rather than morally constructive. Various alternative motivations are considered, including fear and desire; and the conclusion is reached that the moral educator's prime task is to introduce children (...) to forms of life in which they may be pleasureably invested, and where their desire is disciplined by the demands of the form of life itself rather than by guilt or shame. (shrink)
: A constructive interpretation of the Confucian conception of shame is offered here. Xunzi's discussion is considered the locus classicus of the Confucian conception of shame as contrasted with honor. In order to show his conception as an articulation and development of the more inchoate attitudes of Confucius and Mencius, an excursion is made into the Lunyu and the Mengzi. Aristotle's conception of shame is used as a sort of catalyst, an opening for appreciating Xunzi's complementary insights.
Fostering shame in societies may not curb violence, because shame is alienating. The person experiencing shame may not care enough about others to curb violent instincts. Furthermore, men may be less shame-prone than are women. Finally, if shame is too prevalent in a society, perpetrators may be reluctant to talk about their actions and motives, if indeed they know their own motives. We may be unable accurately to discover how perpetrators think about their own violence.