Aristotle on Shame

ISBN : 9780198829683

Marta Jimenez
176 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Dec 2020
Oxford Aristotle Studies Series
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This book presents a novel interpretation of Aristotle's account of how shame instils virtue, and defends its philosophical import. Despite shame's bad reputation as a potential obstacle to the development of moral autonomy, shame is for Aristotle the proto-virtue of those learning to be good, since it is the emotion that equips them with the seeds of virtue. Other emotions such as friendliness, righteous indignation, emulation, hope, and even spiritedness may play important roles on the road to virtue. However, shame is the only one that Aristotle repeatedly associates with moral progress. The reason is that shame can move young agents to perform good actions and avoid bad ones in ways that appropriately resemble not only the external behavior but also the orientation and receptivity to moral value characteristic of virtuous people. By turning their attention to considerations about the perceived nobility and praiseworthiness of their own actions and character, shame places young people in the path to becoming good. Although they are not yet virtuous, learners with a sense of shame can appreciate the value of the noble and guide their actions by a true interest in doing the right thing. Shame, thus, enables learners to perform virtuous actions in the right way before they have practical wisdom or stable dispositions of character. This book solves a long-debated problem concerning Aristotle's notion of habituation by showing that shame provides motivational continuity between the actions of the learners and the virtuous dispositions that they will eventually acquire.


1. Becoming Virtuous By Doing Virtuous Actions
2. Learning Through Pleasure, Pain, the Noble, and the Shameful
3. Pseudo-Virtuous Practices, Pseudo-Virtuous Conditions
4. Connecting Shame with Honor and the Noble
5. The Mixed Nature of Shame
6. Shame as the Proto-Virtue of the Learners
Conclusion - Shame and Moral Development

About the author: 

Marta Jimenez is an Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Emory University. Originally from Spain, she was educated in Spain, Germany, the United States, and Canada. Her work focuses mainly on topics related to moral psychology, philosophy of action, theory of emotions, ethics, and political thought in Plato, Aristotle, and the Cynics. She has broader research interests in contemporary ethics, emotion theory, action theory, virtue ethics, and social epistemology.

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