Philosophical Anthropology, Shame, and Disability: In Favor of an Interpersonal Theory of Shame

Res Philosophica 93 (4):743-765 (2016)
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Abstract

This article argues against a leading cognitivist and moral interpretation of shame that is present in the philosophical literature. That standard view holds that shame is the felt-response to a loss of self-esteem, which is the result of negative self-assessment. I hold that shame is a heteronomous and primitive bodily affect that is perceptual rather than judgmental in nature. Shame results from the breakdown and thwarting of our desire for anonymous, unexceptional, and disattentive co-existence with others. I use the sociological theory of Erving Goffman and the theory of shame found in philosophical anthropology to support this view. I also use the cases of shame and chronic shame that often accompany disability to show that shame is separable from negative self-assessment and, instead, emerges as an affective response to a world (of equipment, things, and people) that disallows unburdened and unreflective interpersonal equilibrium.

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Citations of this work

Making Sense of Shame in Response to Racism.Aness Kim Webster - 2021 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 51 (7):535-550.

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References found in this work

A Theory of Justice: Revised Edition.John Rawls - 1999 - Harvard University Press.
The Emotions: A Philosophical Exploration.Peter Goldie - 2000 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Upheavals of Thought.Martha Nussbaum - 2001 - Journal of Religious Ethics 31 (2):325-341.

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