The phenomenology of shame: a clarification in light of max Scheler and Confucianism

  • Yinghua Lu


This paper will investigate the phenomenology of shame with referring to Max Scheler’s description of the phenomenon and to the tradition of Confucianism. Section I explores the conflict between spirit, life and pleasure in the experience of shame. Shame implies a hierarchy of value, and it is felt when there is a conflict among different values and when the agent intends to sacrifice a higher value for a lower one. Shame also takes place when one is treated by others as a mere object or merely as a sensuous being rather than a spiritual being possessing personal dignity. Section II clarifies the problem of destructive shame and humiliation. While genuine shame is indispensable for a person as such, wrongly felt shame is destructive to the cultivation of virtue. Differences between shame and humiliation and how one should treat humiliation will also be reexamined.


Shame Max Scheler Humiliation Confucianism Phenomenology Moral emotion 



This work is supported by the National Social Science Foundation of China under Grant 16CZX034.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyZhejiang Gongshang UniversityHangzhouChina

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