Please wait a minute...

Frontiers of Philosophy in China

Front. Philos. China    2015, Vol. 10 Issue (1) : 21-57
Moral Psychology of Shame in Early Confucian Philosophy
Bongrae Seok()
Department of Humanities/Philosophy, Alvernia University, Reading, PA 19607, USA
Download: PDF(443 KB)  
Export: BibTeX | EndNote | Reference Manager | ProCite | RefWorks

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.
E-mail this article
E-mail Alert
Articles by authors
Bongrae Seok
Related articles from Frontiers Journals
[1] HU Xinkai. Complete Virtue and the Definition of Happiness in Aristotle[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2020, 15(2): 293-314.
[2] ZHU Qin. Confucian Moral Imagination and Ethics Education in Engineering[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2020, 15(1): 36-52.
[3] Jacklyn A. Cleofas. An Understanding of Character from Holistic Thinking: What Asian Psychology Teaches Us about the Debate on Situationism[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2019, 14(3): 384-405.
[4] Jan Szaif. Drunkenness as a Communal Practice: Platonic and Peripatetic Perspectives[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2019, 14(1): 94-110.
[5] Michael Nylan, Allyson Tang, Zhijian Wang. Patriotism in Early China[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2019, 14(1): 47-74.
[6] Alicia Hennig. Three Different Approaches to Virtue in Business- Aristotle, Confucius, and Lao Zi[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2016, 11(4): 556-586.
[7] Teun Tieleman. The Early Stoics and Aristotelian Ethics[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2016, 11(1): 104-121.
[8] Michael Slote. From Virtue to Freedom through Emotion[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2015, 10(3): 430-443.
[9] John Lamont. The Consolations of Boethius[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2014, 9(1): 69-86.
[10] Rajesh C. Shukla. Justice and Civic Friendship: An Aristotelian Critique of Modern Citizenry[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2014, 9(1): 1-20.
[11] LU Qiaoying. Aquinas’s Transformation of the Virtue of Courage[J]. Front Phil Chin, 2013, 8(3): 471-484.
[12] LIU Jing. Kant’s Virtue as Strength[J]. Front Phil Chin, 2013, 8(3): 451-470.
[13] WANG Kai. Xunzi: A Paradigm of Rationalistic Virtue Ethics in Early Confucianism[J]. Front Phil Chin, 2013, 8(3): 388-396.
[14] CHEN Lai. The Basic Character of the Virtue Theory of Mencius’ Philosophy and Its Significance in Classical Confucianism[J]. Front Phil Chin, 2013, 8(1): 4-21.
[15] Gerard Walmsley. Is There a Place for Traditional Values and Virtues in Society Today?[J]. Front Phil Chin, 2013, 8(1): 31-52.
Full text