Shame vs Guilt on Facebook

FB Post: S: Shame is about the individual. Guilt is about the group

Evil albino: How do you mean?

S: Shame cultures (as described first by E.R. Dodds in an essay "From Shame Culture to Guilt Culture" in http://www.amazon.com/Greeks-Irrational-Sather-Classical-Lectures/dp/0520242300) keep moral order through the physical, public threat of ostracism of the individual from the group. Thus they are more about the individual. This is contrasted with more developed guilt cultures, which try to control the moral order by instilling a psychological group conscience that follows you into the afterlife. Thus they are more about the Group. It's a bit of wobbly distinction but that is what I was getting at.

Evil Albino: So -- you are virtuous by virtue of living in a virtuous town, not being virtuous will bring doom on the town -- so guilt because what  you do will have a catastrophic impact on many people.

Evil Albino: Shame is about punishment than, it's inflected by yourself or others.

Evil Albino: I'll have to read your thing -- guilt and shame seem like a good combo.

S: I like your last definition.

Evil Albino: Anger is what I feel when other people try to shame me.

Evil Albino: I think that unless shame at lack of self control is the only thing keeping a serial killer from killing (because clearly, impact doesn't matter, guilt doesn't come into play), shame is an utterly useless feeling.

Evil Albino: And the people who encourage it should be ashamed of themselves.

A: Shame is how you know you've strayed from your moral compass. Guilt is how you know you've strayed from the law.

Evil Albino: The difference actually becomes very obvious if you think in terms of guilt tripping and shaming.

A: Or in terms of emotion vs. legal status.

Evil Albino: A guilt trip is about letting someone down, shaming about making someone feel bad. The second is a punishment, because it's just meant to make you feel bad. A guilt trip, on the other can be resolved. [Edited] ^1

A: yes, I agree that could be one way of defining it.

S: These are all good insights I think. For me, I like to think of it in terms of the evolutionary psychology of social groups. Shaming is expulsion and evolves first; guilt is mind control that requires more complex social and religious institutions, ie hierarchical structure of social groups. Nietizsche would say it arises with master-slave morality.

Evil Albino: I'd say he is right ^2

Evil Albino: So guilt as an institution, the foundation of a society? Are we moving toward the concept of duty?


^1: the idea was that shame cannot be fixed (because it's internal), but guilt can (because it's external). You can make the guilt go away by doing the thing that causes your guilt.

Shame even though it can be inflected and encouraged externally, is subjective and unless you have a lot of counseling it won't go away.

^2: I have no idea if I agree actually. It appears I cannot understand  Nietizsche's assertion that it arises with master-slave morality by simply reading the words "master-slave morality".


Lifted without consent from the other participants from Evil Albino's FB feed.

Yours always,
  Evil Albino

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