Aristotle considered shame a "quasi-virtue" in that if you feel shame it’s because you’ve done something non-virtuous, but if you’re unable to feel shame — shameless — you are in need of a virtue that you lack.
The fear of shame can be a useful goad to virtuous behavior, see Dante, Inferno: “But shame soon interposed her threat, who makes / the servant bold in presence of his lord.”
- Shame is kind of an inverted, inward-pointing “righteous anger”
Virtues possibly in tension¶
How to acquire or strengthen it¶
Notes and links¶
- Perhaps “repentance” belongs here alongside this quasi-virtue. The “searching moral inventory” and restitution parts of the 12-steps might be useful reference here.
- OOO: Shame
- Shame & Shaming in the 21st Century
- Karl Jaspers delved into the nuances of various forms of guilt and various temptations to shamelessness in "The Question of German Guilt"
- One of the virtues discussed in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics (as a “quasi-virtue”)
- “He who feels no shame of evil and does not hate it is no man. Shame and hate of evil are the beginning of virtue.” ―Mencius (孟子)
- “It was not our minds that resisted but something inside our breasts. People can shout at you from all sides: ‘You must!’ And your own head can be saying also: ‘You must!’ But inside your breast there is a sense of revulsion, repudiation. I don’t want to. It makes me feel sick. Do what you want without me; I want no part of it.” ―Alexander Solzhenitsyn
- “Be attentive to the appearance of evil. There is an inner voice in your soul which always tells you about approaching evil. You feel unpleasant, you feel ashamed. Believe in this voice; stop and seek to improve yourself, and then you will defeat evil.” —Tolstoy
- “We can remove most sins if we have a witness standing by as we are about to go wrong. The soul should have someone it can respect, by whose example it can make its inner sanctum more inviolable.” —Seneca Moral Letters (11.9)