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Dao

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 323–342 | Cite as

Aristotle and Confucius on the Socioeconomics of Shame

  • Thorian R. Harris
Article

Abstract

The sociopolitical significance Aristotle and Confucius attribute to possessing a sense of shame serves to emphasize the importance of its development. Aristotle maintains that social class and wealth are prerequisites for its acquisition, while Confucius is optimistic that it can be developed regardless of socioeconomic considerations. The difference between their positions is largely due to competing views of praiseworthy dispositions. While Aristotle conceives of praiseworthy dispositions as “consistent” traits of character, traits that calcifiy as one reaches adulthood, Confucius offers us an alternative picture, one that affords a greater plasticity to praiseworthy dispositions by treating them as situational character traits. I argue that the Confucian conception of praiseworthy dispositions, combined with several strategies for developing a sense of shame discussed in the Analects, renders Confucius’s optimism defensible.

Keywords

Confucian Ethics Aristotle Shame Emotion Role Ethics Situationism 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentUniversity of Maryland, Baltimore CountyBaltimoreUSA

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