Shame without the "Eye of Others" (an Ethical Analysis of the Desocialized Conception of Shame)
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Shame without the "Eye of Others" (an Ethical Analysis of the Desocialized Conception of Shame)
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The paper analyses advantages and disadvantages of shame as a means to fulfill moral values. The theoretical framework of the research is the conception of shame that defines this emotion not through its context (the other persons' awareness of some transgression), but through special features of negative self-assessment. The supporters of this, desocialized, interpretation of shame maintain that shame appears when an agent negatively assesses his/her own personality, whereas guilt is a form of negative assessment of her particular transgressive action. In psychology, this approach is developed on the basis of researches of H.B. Lewis and J.P. Tangney. In philosophy, it is represented by the analysis of shame and guilt in 'A Theory of Justice' by J. Rawls. The desocialized interpretation of shame becomes а source of several accusations against this emotion. Shame allegedly ruins the personality of moral agent drawing him/her into depression, inhibits emphatic reactions, blocks actions that repair or compensate damage, triggers anger and aggression, impedes moral self-reform. These criticisms generated the bold ameliorative project to drive shame from interpersonal relations and social practice and to replace it by guilt. The author holds that the accusations against shame rest on some serious mistakes. First, critics employ an incorrect definition of shame and thereby wrongly distribute negative effects between such headings as 'shame' and 'guilt'. Second, they miss the complementary nature of these two emotions. The shortcomings of shame and guilt are remedied not only through the rationalization of each of them but on the basis of their proper interplay.
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