Oppression and Liberation via the Rationalities of Shame

In Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Shame: Methods, Theories, Norms, Cultures, and Politics. Lanham, MD 20706, USA: Lexington Books. pp. 51-74 (2019)

Cecilea Mun
Arizona State University (PhD)
Standard accounts of shame characterize shame as an emotion of global negative self-assessment, in which an individual necessarily accepts or assents to a global negative self-evaluation. According to non-standard accounts of shame, experiences of shame need not involve a global negative self-assessment. I argue here in favor of non-standard accounts of shame over standard accounts. First, I begin with a detailed discussion of standard accounts of shame, focusing primarily on Gabriele Taylor’s (1985) standard account. Second, I illustrate how Adrian Piper’s ([1992] 1996) experience of groundless shame can be portrayed as 1) both a rational and an irrational experience of shame, in accordance with Taylor’s account as a paradigm model of standard accounts of shame, and 2) as a rational experience of shame when taken in its own right as a legitimate, rational account of shame. Third, without denying that some experiences of shame either are or can be irrational experiences of shame, I elucidate how standard accounts of shame can act as mechanisms of epistemic injustice, and in doing so can transmute the righteous indignation of the marginalized by recasting them as shameful experiences (i.e., by recasting them as experiences of the righteous shame of the marginalized). (This chapter was previously published in Hypatia, forthcoming, under the title "Rationality through the Eyes of Shame: Oppression and Liberation via Emotion")
Keywords shame  philosophy  interdisciplinary  unified approach
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