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The varieties of shame

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When my grandmother died in 2009, my far-flung family returned to east Texas to mourn her. People she had known from every stage of her life arrived to pay their respects. At a quiet moment during the wake, my aunt asked my grandfather how he felt about seeing all these people who loved him and who loved my grandmother. He answered, “Shame” and started to cry. Moral philosophers have been thinking about shame and its place in our moral lives for a long time. In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle claims that shame is the “fear of disrepute” that keeps us from doing shameful things. Aristotle’s influence on contemporary views of shame is easy to see. 2000 years later, John Rawls defines shame as the loss of self-esteem we experience when we fail to achieve certain excellences. Gabriele Taylor calls shame an “emotion of self-protection”—shame is a sort of emotional warning siren that stops us from losing more face than we already have. This general understanding of shame has become the. . .

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News source: OUPblog » Philosophy

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