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Frontiers of Philosophy in China

Front. Philos. China    2015, Vol. 10 Issue (1) : 21-57     https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-004-015-0003-4
research-article |
Moral Psychology of Shame in Early Confucian Philosophy
Bongrae Seok()
Department of Humanities/Philosophy, Alvernia University, Reading, PA 19607, USA
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Abstract

In Western philosophy and psychology, shame is characterized as a self-critical emotion that is often contrasted with the similarly self-critical but morally active emotion of guilt. If shame is negative concern over endangered or threatened self-image (usually in front of others), guilt is autonomous moral awareness of one’s wrongdoings and reparative motivation to correct one’s moral misconduct. Recently, many psychologists have begun to discuss the moral significance of shame in their comparative studies of non-Western cultures. In this new approach, shame is characterized as a positive moral emotion and active motivation for self-reflection and self-cultivation. If shame is a positive and active moral emotion, what is its moral psychological nature? In this paper, I will analyze shame from the perspective of cultural psychology and early Confucian philosophy. Unlike many Western philosophers, Confucius and Mencius discuss shame as a form of moral excellence. In early Confucian texts, shame is not a reactive emotion of an endangered self but a moral disposition that supports a self-critical and self-transformative process of moral development.

Keywords shame      virtue      cultural psychology      moral psychology      early confucian philosophy      markedness theory      attribution theory     
Issue Date: 23 March 2015
 Cite this article:   
Bongrae Seok. Moral Psychology of Shame in Early Confucian Philosophy[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2015, 10(1): 21-57.
 URL:  
http://journal.hep.com.cn/fpc/EN/10.3868/s030-004-015-0003-4
http://journal.hep.com.cn/fpc/EN/Y2015/V10/I1/21
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