Self, consciousness, and shame

Dan Zahavi

in The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Phenomenology

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199594900
Published online January 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Self, consciousness, and shame

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  • Philosophy
  • Epistemology
  • Moral Philosophy



What does the fact that we feel shame tell us about the nature of self? Does shame testify to the presence of a self-concept, a (failed) self-ideal, and a capacity for critical self-assessment, or does it rather, as some have suggested, point to the fact that the self is in part socially constructed? Should shame primarily be classified as a self-conscious emotion, is it rather a distinct social emotion, or might this forced alternative be misguided? In the chapter, I contrast certain prevalent cognitivist accounts of shame with different proposals that can be found in the phenomenological tradition and ultimately argue that prototypical forms of shame provide vivid examples of other-mediated forms of self-experience.

Keywords: self; self-consciousness; shame; social emotions; self-conscious emotions

Article.  10748 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Epistemology ; Moral Philosophy

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