Advertisement

Studies in Philosophy and Education

, Volume 33, Issue 5, pp 495–511 | Cite as

Is Shame an Ugly Emotion? Four Discourses—Two Contrasting Interpretations for Moral Education

  • Kristján KristjánssonEmail author
Article

Abstract

This paper offers a sustained philosophical meditation on contrasting interpretations of the emotion of shame within four academic discourses—social psychology, psychological anthropology, educational psychology and Aristotelian scholarship—in order to elicit their implications for moral education. It turns out that within each of these discourses there is a mainstream interpretation which emphasises shame’s expendability or moral ugliness (and where shame is typically described as guilt’s ugly sister), but also a heterodox interpretation which seeks to retrieve and defend shame. As the heterodox interpretation seems to offer a more realistic picture of shame’s role in moral education, the provenance of the mainstream interpretation merits scrutiny. I argue that social scientific studies of the concept of shame, based on its supposed phenomenology, incorporate biases in favour of excessive, rather than medial, forms of the emotion. I suggest ways forward for more balanced analyses of the nature, moral justification and educative role of shame.

Keywords

Shame Guilt Moral education Aristotle Conceptual analyses 

References

  1. Abblett, M. (2011). Teaching kids to sidestep shame. Psychology Today, Oct. 16. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/special-education/201110/teaching-kids-sidestep-shame. Accessed 25 April 2013.
  2. Ahmed, E. (2006). Understanding bullying from a shame management perspective. Educational and Child Psychology, 23(1), 26–40.Google Scholar
  3. Anscombe, G. E. M. (1958). Modern moral philosophy. Philosophy, 33(1), 1–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Aristotle. (1985). Nicomachean ethics, trans. T. Irwin. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing.Google Scholar
  5. Aristotle (2007) On rhetoric, trans. G. A. Kennedy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Benedict, R. (1947). The chrysanthemum and the sword. London: Secker and Warburg.Google Scholar
  7. Bruun, O. (2014). Aristotle on shame and virtue: Some remarks on NE 1128b10–35. Topoi (in press).Google Scholar
  8. Bruun, O., & Teroni, F. (2011). Shame, guilt and morality. Journal of Moral Philosophy, 8(2), 223–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cairns, D. L. (1993). Aidos: The psychology and ethics of honour and shame in ancient Greek literature. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  10. Curzer, H. J. (2005). How good people do bad things: Aristotle on the misdeeds of the virtuous. Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, 28(1), 233–256.Google Scholar
  11. Curzer, H. J. (2012). Aristotle and the virtues. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. De Hooge, I. E., Breugelmans, S. M., & Zeelenberg, M. (2008). Not so ugly after all: When shame acts as a commitment device. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95(4), 933–943.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. De Hooge, I. E., Zeelenberg, M., & Breugelmans, S. M. (2010). Restore and protect motivations following shame. Cognition and Emotion, 24(1), 111–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Deonna, J., Rodogno, R., & Teroni, F. (2011). In defense of shame: the faces of an emotion. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Deonna, J., & Teroni, F. (2008). Shame’s guilt disproved. Critical Quarterly, 50(4), 65–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Ehrenreich, B. (2009). Bright-sided: How the relentless promotion of positive thinking has undermined America. New York: Metropolitan Books.Google Scholar
  17. Fredrickson, B. L. (2009). Positivity: Groundbreaking research reveals how to embrace the hidden strength of positive emotions, overcome negativity, and thrive. New York: Crown.Google Scholar
  18. Fung, H. (1999). Becoming a moral child: The socialization of shame among young Chinese children. Ethos, 27(2), 180–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Furukawa, E., Tangney, J., & Higashibara, F. (2012). Cross-cultural continuities and discontinuities in shame, guilt, and pride: A study of children residing in Japan, Korea and the USA. Self and Identity, 11(1), 90–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional intelligence. New York: Bantam Books.Google Scholar
  21. Grille, R. & Macgregor, B. (2013). ‘Good’ children – at what price? The secret cost of shame. http://www.naturalchild.org/robin_grille/good_children.html. Accessed 25 March 2013.
  22. Gulliford, L., Morgan, B., & Kristjánsson, K. (2013). Some recent work on the concept of gratitude in philosophy and psychology. Journal of Value Inquiry, 47(3), 285–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Haidt, J. (2001). The emotional dog and its rational tail: A social intuitionist approach to moral judgment. Psychological Review, 108(4), 814–834.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hunter, J. D. (2000). The death of character. New York: Persusus.Google Scholar
  25. Jimenez, M. (2011). The virtues of shame: Aristotle on the positive role of shame in moral development. Unpublished PhD thesis. https://tspace.library.utoronto.ca/bitstream/1807/29765/3/Jimenez_Marta_201106_PhD_thesis.pdf. Accessed 25 April 2013.
  26. Kant, I. (1964). Metaphysics of morals, trans. M. J. Gregor. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  27. Kristjánsson, K. (2002). Justifying emotions: Pride and jealousy. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  28. Kristjánsson, K. (2007). Aristotle, emotions and education. Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  29. Kristjánsson, K. (2010a). The self and its emotions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Kristjánsson, K. (2010b). Emotion education without ontological commitment? Studies in Philosophy and Education, 29(3), 259–274.Google Scholar
  31. Kristjánsson, K. (2013). Virtues and vices in positive psychology: A philosophical critique. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Lambert, N. M., Graham, S. M., & Fincham, F. D. (2009). A prototype analysis of gratitude: Varieties of gratitude experiences. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35(9), 1193–1207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lewis, H. B. (1971). Shame and guilt in neurosis. New York: International Universities Press.Google Scholar
  34. Lindsay-Hartz, J. (1984). Contrasting experiences of shame and guilt. American Behavioral Scientist, 27(6), 689–704.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Linnenbrink, E. A., & Pintrich, P. R. (2002). Achievement goal theory and affect: An asymmetrical bidirectional model. Educational Psychologist, 37(1), 69–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. MacIntyre, A. (1981). After virtue. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press.Google Scholar
  37. Meyer, D. K., & Turner, J. C. (2006). Re-conceptualizing emotion and motivation to learn in classroom contexts. Educational Psychology Review, 18(4), 377–390.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Mulligan, K. (2009). Moral emotions. In D. Sander & K. Scherer (Eds.), The Oxford companion to emotions and the affective sciences (pp. 262–264). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Nagel, T. (2012). Mind and cosmos. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Nussbaum, M. C. (1996). Compassion: The basic social emotion. Social Philosophy and Policy, 13(1), 27–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Olthof, T. (2012). Anticipated feelings of guilt and shame as predictors of early adolescents’ antisocial and prosocial interpersonal behaviour. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 9(3), 371–388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Pekrun, R., Goetz, T., Titz, W., & Perry, R. P. (2002). Academic emotions in students’ self-regulated learning and achievement: A program of qualitative and quantitative research. Educational Psychologist, 37(2), 91–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Tamir, M., & Gross, J. J. (2011). Beyond pleasure and pain? Emotion regulation and positive psychology. In K. M. Sheldon, T. B. Kashdan, & M. F. Steger (Eds.), Designing positive psychology: Taking stock and moving forward (pp. 89–100). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Tangney, J. P. (1991). Moral affect: The good, the bad, and the ugly. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61(4), 598–607.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Tangney, J. P., & Dearing, R. L. (2002). Shame and guilt. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  47. Tangney, J. P., Miller, R. S., Flicker, L., & Barlow, D. (1996). Are shame, guilt, and embarrassment distinct emotions? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70(6), 1256–1269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Teroni, F., & Deonna, J. (2008). Distinguishing shame from guilt. Consciousness and Cognition, 17(4), 725–740.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Tombs, D. (1995). ‘Shame’ as a neglected value in schooling. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 29(1), 23–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Tracy, J. L., Robins, R. W., & Tangney, J. P. (Eds.). (2007). The self-conscious emotions: Theory and research. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  51. Turner, J. E., Husman, J., & Schallert, D. L. (2002). The importance of students’ goals in their emotional experience of academic failure: Investigating the precursors and consequences of shame. Educational Psychologist, 37(1), 79–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Wallbott, H. G., & Scherer, K. R. (1995). Cultural determinants in experiencing shame and guilt. In J. P. Tangney & K. W. Fischer (Eds.), Self-conscious emotions (pp. 465–487). New York: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  53. Wicker, F., Payne, G., & Morgan, R. (1983). Participant descriptions of guilt and shame. Motivation and Emotion, 7(1), 25–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Williams, B. (1993). Shame and necessity. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  55. Wilson, J. (2001). Shame, guilt and moral education. Journal of Moral Education, 30(1), 71–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Jubilee Centre for Character and Values, School of EducationUniversity of BirminghamBirminghamUK

Personalised recommendations