1
   

Nature of Shame

 
 
Khethil
 
Reply Tue 1 Jul, 2008 06:05 am
I wrote this quite a while back and happened upon it the other day. I'm curious if others share this view, or perhaps some shade of it.

Shame is but a concept; a feeling which exists when one feels they have lessened themselves because of an act they've they performed. Instantly, they are faced with the reality that what they have done is inconsistent with a standard they've endeavoured to maintain.

But I believe that people, inherently, are dishonest with themselves. We deny our true natures in lieu of some set of ideals or standards which we aspire to in order to maintain favor in the eyes of others. When we do something which, we believe, is inconsistent with these standards we are generally aware of it. It is hard to fathom the idea that I might commit an act which is completely opposed to that which I believe in, and not know or understand this at all.

So what is the very first thing we ask ourselves when we've violated a standard? Although we might not, at first, be consciously aware of it, the very first thing we ask is, Did anyone see it?

When we are laid open to others, and our act comes to light in the eyes of others who know that we have wronged, we feel shame; however, when we violate a standard and no one knows, it becomes our little secret and shame is not felt. This is dishonesty with ones self, and is in bad faith. As long as we are not caught, we do not feel shame on ourselves for such transgressions. This is despicable. It is despicable that we have become a society which denies its true nature in favor of our appearance.

We fear that others may view us as bad or wrong. We fear their retribution upon us and it is by this penalty that we are prodded to act the way that popular society wants us to. Shame is a powerful weapon, and it's potency lies in the rebukes of others.

  • Topic Stats
  • Top Replies
  • Link to this Topic
Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 1,335 • Replies: 15
No top replies

 
de budding
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Jul, 2008 08:15 am
@Khethil,
Sartre's example of a man peeping through a keyhole at someone is a good allegory for your description me thinks. The man is completely absorbed in the situation that is going in in the room, his complete focus is directed through the keyhole at what is happening in the room.

He hears a creaking floorboard behind him, and he becomes aware of himself as seen by the Other*. It is only then that he is filled with shame as he now (and only now) perceives and envisions himself as he would perceive someone else doing what he was doing.

*the Other (with a cap 'O') refers to another subject that 'shares' this earth with you.

The illusion that is created is that shame is projected from the Other into our peeping tom, but we all know this isn't the case and we all recognize our helplessness to avoid the shame. Is it possible, in such a state of mind, that you could deny the shame imposed on your from the Other?

Also to put a wee twist on things, what of a more positive judgment? Lets say a scenario where the presence of the Other suddenly fills you with joy, happiness or pride. Is this not just as useful of a weapon as shame is?

In fact as long as you have Others on your mind, your actions will be governed by Others, always; existentialism preaches a message of independent choice making in-situation that does not allow Others to make those choices for you (controlling your choice via their judgment and expectations). Do you think this is possible? Would you just be hoping that Others don't find out what choice you made, or would you genuinely be able to live on this earth not caring what image of you existed in the Others heads?

Here is something a little I rambled out while in a bad mood and a tad drunk on the subject. The Herd is the Others, Tragic Hero he who tries to transcend the Herd and the Warrior is he who tries to conquer the Herd.

This is three descriptions of the three roles (herd, hero, warrior), the hero and warrior perspective are written as if by the herd, hence why they are so negative- the herd don't like it if you try to transcend them, it is an insult. The ideas was that it is impossible to be anything but the herd (another Other whos judgment dominates anothers life) because they rule 'the world with an iron fist of judgment'.

[CENTER]_______________[/CENTER]

Existential options:

The Herd, masters of perceptual problems, they'll turn you around; noble intentions and intelligence can be diluted by their delusions of jealousy and bitterness. The only people they want to judge their actions are likeminded cattle who'll tell them that anything other than eating the grass is pretentious, self-indulgent and a quest to make the herd feel insignificant. Battle their numbers and feel the collective wrath of disapproval and let their perception drive you deeper underground; reinvent yourself, go ahead try to impress them, all your doing is letting them bite you and turn you into the living dead.


You have no choice in this; your existential choices are limited to the herd, tragic hero or heart-mending warrior, each is completely misinterpreted by the heard (the herd doesn't even understand itself) and it becomes a quest of self control not to grab that branding iron.



I would ask, is it enough to rule my world with their glare and opinion, but let me remind you they have a large amount of control over reality with their numbers, I better watch how I treat them or I'll end up in prison or some silly thing. I guess the question to ask with regards to conformity is...

Do you want any body at my funeral?

The tragic hero, a self-indulgent megalomaniac who lives to make himself more than, then aspires to keep it to himself so that one day through other means than himself you may find out. Maybe after he's dead, maybe never; your so far bellow him you don't make it as far this consideration, he would not allow you into his world. You, in his personal sphere of self satisfaction are concluded as the collective, with the rest, should you be so lucky as to stand out you will join his world; he wants his own world so he can be God. (Really the tragic hero simply tries to distance himself from teh herd, perhaps he can be likened to the ubermensch)

The heart-mending warrior, he will strive to mend you heart to make himself feel better, he absorbs your satisfaction as his own, hence his good intentions. Let him help you (he's good for that) just don't let him change you- that's what he really want, he wants a radical new world brought around by his advice so he can be God. (Really the warrior has taken it apon himself to try and 'enlighten' the herd, but he is judged for his actions rather harshly.)


Dan
0 Replies
 
Arjen
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Jul, 2008 11:23 am
@Khethil,
Khethil wrote:
I wrote this quite a while back and happened upon it the other day. I'm curious if others share this view, or perhaps some shade of it.

Shame is but a concept; a feeling which exists when one feels they have lessened themselves because of an act they've they performed. Instantly, they are faced with the reality that what they have done is inconsistent with a standard they've endeavoured to maintain.

But I believe that people, inherently, are dishonest with themselves. We deny our true natures in lieu of some set of ideals or standards which we aspire to in order to maintain favor in the eyes of others. When we do something which, we believe, is inconsistent with these standards we are generally aware of it. It is hard to fathom the idea that I might commit an act which is completely opposed to that which I believe in, and not know or understand this at all.

So what is the very first thing we ask ourselves when we've violated a standard? Although we might not, at first, be consciously aware of it, the very first thing we ask is, Did anyone see it?

When we are laid open to others, and our act comes to light in the eyes of others who know that we have wronged, we feel shame; however, when we violate a standard and no one knows, it becomes our little secret and shame is not felt. This is dishonesty with ones self, and is in bad faith. As long as we are not caught, we do not feel shame on ourselves for such transgressions. This is despicable. It is despicable that we have become a society which denies its true nature in favor of our appearance.

We fear that others may view us as bad or wrong. We fear their retribution upon us and it is by this penalty that we are prodded to act the way that popular society wants us to. Shame is a powerful weapon, and it's potency lies in the rebukes of others.


Kethil, do you not think shame is something which was taught to us by an authority? 'Shame' does not exist in reality. It is a thought-object formed to enslave a populace! By making people believe they are deserving of punishment when not obeing 'laws', 'ideals' or 'religious dogma' these institutions can get quite comfortable because people will feel 'ashamed' when not obeing unfair laws or revolting against unfair treatment.

You should read Nietzsche's (<-- links to english translation).
de budding
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Jul, 2008 11:35 am
@Arjen,
Arjen,

Would not such a thought-object be imprinted on us by our parents when they approve/disapprove of our infantile behavior? Again a destructive goal is defined, but what other options are available?

If the masses maintain this approval/disapproval dichotomy via judgment and glare there is also little one can do to avoid such feelings as shame; we have to co-exist and co-existence isn't possible if society disapproves of you- '[the masses] have a large amount of control over reality with their numbers, I better watch how I treat them or I'll end up in prison or some silly thing.' or worse I'll feel shame.

Dan.
Arjen
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Jul, 2008 11:56 am
@de budding,
De Budding, Smile
de_budding wrote:

Would not such a thought-object be imprinted on us by our parents when they approve/disapprove of our infantile behavior? Again a destructive goal is defined, but what other options are available?

That is why it took centuries of genocide to get done.... It was done by the state and the church allright...the 'aristocracy'.

Quote:

If the masses maintain this approval/disapproval dichotomy via judgment and glare there is also little one can do to avoid such feelings as shame; we have to co-exist and co-existence isn't possible if society disapproves of you- '[the masses] have a large amount of control over reality with their numbers, I better watch how I treat them or I'll end up in prison or some silly thing.' or worse I'll feel shame.

No, co-existence is possible without approvement of 'society'. There just will be little exchange of information...which is just what the 'aristocracy' was after: containment.

Anyway, society is indeed, for a large part, controlled by the thought: "What will the guys in the pub think?"
0 Replies
 
GoshisDead
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Jul, 2008 12:21 pm
@Khethil,
From an Anthropological standpoint, There are two major types of personal cultural rule maintenance mechanisms, Shame and Guilt. Shame being that which is implemented by the outside,
Quote:
When we are laid open to others, and our act comes to light in the eyes of others who know that we have wronged, we feel shame
These things are normally most effective in small scale cultures/societies where the transgressor of the rules knows most people personally. Guilt however is that which is taught to be implemented internally through the act of shaming. It is taught in smaller scale venues such as family, church, tight knit neiborhoods and schools etc... It is then internalized. It seems to be the mechanism of choice in larger societies that do not have the close personal connection required to properly shame an individual. Shame in itself is becoming less effective due to "globalization" of culture, thus guilt, the self maintenance mechanism, suffers as well. One example of this is the abscense of punishments like banishment in guilt cultures as compaired to the popularity of it still in many of the smaller tribal cultures left today. Banishment is in many of these cases considered a worse punishment than execution, it is the ultimate shame/dishonor. and now I'm rambling, over and out
0 Replies
 
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Jul, 2008 01:55 pm
@Arjen,
Arjen wrote:
Kethil, do you not think shame is something which was taught to us by an authority? 'Shame' does not exist in reality. It is a thought-object formed to enslave a populace!


Yes, completely. "Shame", I believe, is an imposed response - it's socialized and not an innate reaction to any one-thing (only a conditioned response). I believe its a reaction-type that's long been exploited, but not 'created' (as a concept); perhaps the better way to say this is that I'd say it's been "used" as a way to condition people. As a parent, I must admit, I too found it a useful tool.

Arjen wrote:
You should read Nietzsche's (<-- links to english translation).


Yes, I have (though, a good long time ago - might be time for another peruse). Very good work.

As I've grown, I'm more consciously aware of the effect shame has (mostly on the day-to-day issues). For a rather prurient example: We live in a rural community with a big back lot enclosed by trees. I hate clothes... I hate the presumptuous pomposity with which we've villified our bodies. I'd *love* to sit out back with my wife on our Friday night BBQ's nude and just feel the open-ness and enjoy the breeze. I can't... mechanisms within me subvert any relaxation I'd have. This, not for fear of the law (though that might be a decent motivator), but for my own discomfort - a result of my socialization.

Perhaps this is a bad example. The purpose of my bringing this up is to help reinforce that Shame is something installed... uninstalling it in situations where our good conduct is clearly substantiated (despite our conditioning), is something an independent and mature adult would want (I'd should think). But since we're products of our own past (experiences, socialization most-notably), it's a difficult thing to get passed.
de budding
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Jul, 2008 02:22 pm
@Khethil,
Is not a realization followed by plenty of conviction, all that is needed to banish such problems? Let us know if you ever get the determination to go full-frontal 'out back'. Very Happy

Dan.
0 Replies
 
Doobah47
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Jul, 2008 06:26 pm
@Khethil,
Khethil wrote:

So what is the very first thing we ask ourselves when we've violated a standard? Although we might not, at first, be consciously aware of it, the very first thing we ask is, Did anyone see it?


I don't know whether you're right or not; surely one's reaction would be disappointment at not upholding the standard, and shame is but an emotional response developed in contemplation. I doubt whether shame has much to do with societal values, I think it has more to do with the development of the self as a stronger being having learned from errors - that it is entirely instinctive and prevalent among all creatures as part of survival.

[quote]
Yes, completely. "Shame", I believe, is an imposed response - it's socialized and not an innate reaction to any one-thing (only a conditioned response). I believe its a reaction-type that's long been exploited, but not 'created' (as a concept); perhaps the better way to say this is that I'd say it's been "used" as a way to condition people. As a parent, I must admit, I too found it a useful tool.[/quote]

Surely the reaction of a gazelle who stumbles whilst running from a cheetah is one of shame? It looses face in front of it's fellows and the lion, displays weakness, as it dies is it not shame that overcomes it?

Perhaps shame is equivalent to a concept of death, or suicide; whereby the shame represents a reason for the life to end, or a symptom of the end of a lifetime's effort to uphold standards (a death of sorts).
de Silentio
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Jul, 2008 08:30 pm
@Khethil,
Book one and two of Plato's Laws.
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Wed 2 Jul, 2008 04:33 am
@Doobah47,
Doobah47 wrote:

I don't know whether you're right or not; surely one's reaction would be disappointment at not upholding the standard, and shame is but an emotional response developed in contemplation. I doubt whether shame has much to do with societal values, I think it has more to do with the development of the self as a stronger being having learned from errors - that it is entirely instinctive and prevalent among all creatures as part of survival.


Very interesting twist. As if its basis (what I'm calling socially installed) has a deeper, more primordial basis? Though, in my example, its manifestation is social, its impact comes from something more basic?

I'm struggling on your interpretation but would like to understand more fully where you're coming from.
Arjen
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Jul, 2008 01:28 pm
@Khethil,
Kethil, I have been pondering the question wether or not 'shame' exists or is created. I am standing by my initial statement of thought-objects.

The reason for my standfastness is this:

Thought-objects do not have to correlate with physical actuality. They can be 'not-true' and still have an effect on the actions of individuals. In that sense it is entirely possible that feelings of affection, such as love, can be completely false, while being present in a person. The answer lies in what 'emotions' are. 'Emotions' are in fact the thought-object that certain thought-objects should have a physical manifestation to be judged as 'real'. So certain people celebrate when their favorite sports club has won, while at a later time they would shrug at it because other, more pressing matters, take up their attention.

'Shame' in that sense is merely the thought-object about 'good' or 'bad' combined with the thought object that a certain physical manifestation should be made to proove it is not merely a thought-object.

Emotions themselves are so much accepted that the not showing of emotions is considered no-human. There have been many examples through history of people who held that emotions did not exist or were not relevant, like the , Spinoza, or logical positivism.

Especially Spinoza makes a great model of what emotions are and how they are derived in his Ethics. I am planning to write a report on that, but that will take time. Perhaps you would like to read the work itself. It is, in my opinion, a masterpiece.
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Jul, 2008 02:06 pm
@Arjen,
Arjen,

Good perspective to keep in mind (on the thought-object) And yes; I've read that one and VERY much enjoyed it.

Thank you
0 Replies
 
Doobah47
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Jul, 2008 03:22 pm
@de Silentio,
I think fundamentally that shame is but a facet of language not properly grounded in psychological fact. In my view the notion of shame actually encompasses a number of differing emotions, yet there is some kind of conglomeration that one might term 'shame'.

Quote:
Surely the reaction of a gazelle who stumbles whilst running from a cheetah is one of shame? It looses face in front of it's fellows and the lion, displays weakness, as it dies is it not shame that overcomes it?


In this quote I omit the pain and suffering of the gazelle while it is eaten and instead concentrate on the immediate emotion it feels upon being caught. Shame would surely manifest itself in the context of society (as we know), but is it not possible that shame finds a place in our instinctive, primitive, "primordial" consciousness; (I feel able to answer with examples and perhaps not theory) maybe if an early human - a hunter gatherer - happened to pass a richly fruitful tree on a search, surely if the human had already searched this area he would feel some kind of emotion as a response to the mistake of not noticing the tree: I suppose this emotion could be termed shame. An emotion that arises when one realizes a mistake - surely primordial, primitive and instinctive; simply an emotion connected to learning/mistake.

I think it is entirely possible that shame is an instinctive reaction to events, though I would not stake any kind of definite answer to the question. Perhaps shame has been harnessed in the subjugation of peoples, or has evolved to fit the environment (mainly social) that humans have come to exist within.
0 Replies
 
paulhanke
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Jul, 2008 10:20 pm
@Khethil,
Does shame depend on culture? Quoting V.F. Cordova:

"One often encounters a description of Native American cultures as being based on 'shame' rather than 'guilt.' Actually both shame and guilt are part of the internalization of rules of conduct. One experiences shame in the face of those who knew that the course of action would bring about specific consequences. One experiences guilt when one confronts oneself. Shame and guilt, in a Western system of conduct, are emotions that are to be overcome. In a Native American society they are what call us to action."

In this past millennium, there was a transformation in Western culture away from the group as the basic unit of human culture and toward the individual as the basic unit of human culture. Such a transformation never occurred in the Americas. What V.F. Cordova describes as the Western tendency to try and overcome shame and guilt can be seen as an attempt to overcome vestigial elements of a way of being that Western culture has evolved away from. A sad commentary?
0 Replies
 
Desiderus
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 May, 2009 04:10 pm
@Khethil,
Khethil wrote:
We deny our true natures in lieu of some set of ideals or standards which we aspire to in order to maintain favor in the eyes of others.
[/COLOR]

You say that like it's a bad thing.


[quote=Khethil]When we do something which, we believe, is inconsistent with these standards we are generally aware of it. It is hard to fathom the idea that I might commit an act which is completely opposed to that which I believe in, and not know or understand this at all.

So what is the very first thing we ask ourselves when we've violated a standard? Although we might not, at first, be consciously aware of it, the very first thing we ask is, Did anyone see it?

When we are laid open to others, and our act comes to light in the eyes of others who know that we have wronged, we feel shame; however, when we violate a standard and no one knows, it becomes our little secret and shame is not felt. This is dishonesty with ones self, and is in bad faith. As long as we are not caught, we do not feel shame on ourselves for such transgressions. This is despicable. It is despicable that we have become a society which denies its true nature in favor of our appearance.[/quote]

Though this may be true in some cases, I don't believe it to be true in all cases. I remember cheating on a diet once, and feeling intensely ashamed. Nobody had caught me but myself; I was the only one who knew. Yet I was deeply ashamed of myself: I knew I had failed myself. While I agree that shame is realizing failure and feeling as though one has lessened oneself, I don't agree that shame must come from being caught.
0 Replies
 
 

Related Topics

How can we be sure? - Discussion by Raishu-tensho
Proof of nonexistence of free will - Discussion by litewave
morals and ethics, how are they different? - Question by existential potential
Destroy My Belief System, Please! - Discussion by Thomas
Star Wars in Philosophy. - Discussion by Logicus
Existence of Everything. - Discussion by Logicus
Is it better to be feared or loved? - Discussion by Black King
 
  1. Forums
  2. » Nature of Shame
Copyright © 2021 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.05 seconds on 07/25/2021 at 02:10:17