Definition of Shame

Big image

What is Shame?

This question is often disregarded and averted because shame is not a pleasant feeling, but painful, actually. The pain is so acute that we tend to avoid reflecting upon it; shame becomes a cause of shame itself. Knowing shame and causes of shame, however, is important to know ourselves as the shame is related to us intimately.

The Origins

The root of shame is Old English scam, sceomu which has the meaning of "feeling of guilt or disgrace" and "modesty" ("shame").

This distinction is clarified in Greek: aiskhyne is shame in the bad sense of "disgrace, dishonor" and adios is shame in the good sense of "modesty, bashfulness" ("shame").

Old Norse kinnroði is neutral, which literally means "cheek-redness," "blush of shame" ("shame").

How could shame be in good sense? As the anticipation of shame experience deters one from actually doing something that could arouse such pain; the protective withdrawal what we call modesty is.

The First Shame

Big image

Expulsion of Adam and Eve

Before eating the forbidden fruit, "[Adam and Eve] were both naked and they were not ashamed" (qtd. in Broucek 3). After eating it, they felt 'shame' for their nakedness for the first time in human history.

Here, shame is the "incontrovertible evidence of the acquisition of objective self-awareness"; they perceive the existence of Other's regard for the first time (Broucek 3).

Expulsion from Eden is, therefore, the expulsion from the complete and sole self-image. Having lost the blessed ignorance of others, they fell into the perpetual horror of shame.

Every object suddenly starts to talk:

Big image

"I am not What You Think I am"

Big image
It's not a pipe. With the acquisition of forbidden knowledge, the world is now unintelligible which has to be probed, studied, controlled, or conquered. Conflicts and pain are now inevitable, numerous, and universal.

Open Eyes to the External World

The link with the divine Source was broken and became invisible, the world became suddenly external to Adam, things became opaque and heavy, they became like unintelligible and hostile fragments.

(Broucek 4)

Who can Ignore Shame?

Big image

Powerful Pathos of Shame

Big image

Community of Feeling

Shame in everyday language refers to the same innate affect with emotions such as "shyness, reticence, embarrassment, chagrin, painful self-consciousness, feelings of inferiority and inadequacy, mortification, disgrace, and dishonor" (Broucek 5).

These emotions have their common roots on the concern for others, or, precisely, on the concern for oneself in others' eyes. The horror of the conflict with others' view of oneself and rejection by others is so intense, and, nevertheless, universal that so many words are generated from it.

For this share of feelings, we can sympathize with each other, forming a sense of human beings as a community of feeling.

For Shame!

Big image

Shame and Guilt

Ruth Benedict delineates Japanese culture as the "culture of shame" and Western culture as the "culture of guilt"; the former reveals the regard for external world and the latter leaves the regard for the internality (qtd. in Ikegami pg. 1).

In culture of shame, the relationship between one and others is horizontal. Shame is the means of restraint and punishment of the community of feelings.

"For shame," and "Shame on you" are idioms which mean "you should feel ashamed!" They are voices from the community, rebuking ones' betrayal of anticipated reactions and reminding one of the way to express the sorry.

Vulnerability or Capability

Big image

Becoming Being for Others

Jean-Paul Sartre said "I perform a vulgar gesture and, nothing that I have been witnessed, feel ashamed of myself" (qtd. in Gardner 127).

Vulnerability to the Fall

Sartre argues that one is ashamed only in front of others, or, in Singer's words, "in the presence of a phantasy or eidetic audience" (qtd. in Broucek 8). Our "vulgar act'" itself does not shame us but the perception of others watching us does (qtd. in Ikegami par. 4).

Being an object of others elicit shame more than the mere fact that the vulgar act is seen. In this sense, shame is a feeling of fundamental loss by the fall from the position of a subject to that of an object.

Capability of Ascent

Big image

Presence of Mind

According to Scheler, shame arouses from the conflict between the body and mind. The "higher" passion of mind which surpasses biological self-interest ineluctably conflicts with the "lower" passion of body which rules us to live and thrive (qtd. in Ikegami par. 2).

Scheler further contends that shame is an unique characteristic of men since neither god nor animals feel it; God is free from the rule of body and animals do not know of the noble mind. Only human beings "are capable of" feeling shame for having mind independent from body (qtd. in Ikegami par. 2).

What is Shame?

Big image

Imagination of Others' View


1. the condition of being ascended above the realm of animals and under the consequent horror of the fall to the realm of objects; a fundamental condition of human beings

2. a sense or anticipation of pain makes one to repress certain types or desires or actions which would cause the pain; the innate means of protection of individuals in a community or a society not to avoid the rules, thus also protecting the society

3. Capability and vulnerability of human beings (not) to sympathize and (not) to be sympathized

Big image

Works Cited

Broucek, Francis J. Shame and the Self. NY: The Guilford Press, 1991. Google Books. Web. 04 Feb. 2014.

Gardner, Sebastian. Sartre’s Being and Nothingness: A Reader’s Guide. London: Gardner, 2009. Continuumbooks. Web. 04 Feb. 2014

Ikegami, Dezsi. “Shame.” Naver Encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Feb. 2014.

"shame." Douglas Harper, 2001. Web. 04 Feb. 2014.