Shame: The Seed of 4130.2010

(All of Denver is talking about shame these days. It made me think about shame for part of the afternoon.)

Shame, as it is commonly felt, is outdated. Acting in disagreement with the morality of the group or the family or the woman are understood to bring upon him shame. Shame is his fear of losing the security of the others, access to the food and shelter and support of the group or the family, and sex with the woman. Shame is a physical response to keep him in line with the species, to best insure his survival.

But the moralities of man lag far behind his technological control and manipulation of his world. Food, shelter and security are in abundance in the West, and easily accessed. There is no reason to feel shame for breaking the rules of the group or the family, and even in the case of a wife or girlfriend trying to shame him, it is only a bad case of one-itis or beta-tude that enables such shame. Man is slow to understand the inefficacy of the moralities he has inherited. He is slow to understand that the time in which he lives is only vaguely moral. He can still be shamed for actions which do not threaten his survival.

Authentic shame is what a greater man knows and only he himself can know. Such a man has rejected the surrounding, lesser moralities of the group, family and women, and replaced them with a morality of his own. He has honestly assessed his skills and abilities and he knows what he is capable of and he knows when he has fallen short, not due to lack of effort, but as a result of neglect. For him what is shameful exists in not doing that which he was capable of and should have done. Others cannot understand the shame he feels for failing to act in accordance with his values. There is no one to punish him but himself, no one to whom he may apologize.


  1. Indeed shame was inspired by the words of maximin during two runs recently (each leading to a post, each leading to an idea, each idea being the same idea, basically). Shame is something I write about as an observer; I think I once understood shame or experienced it but I don't know that I do any more. I disclaim an opinion on what shame is. I know what shame isn't, perhaps. Maybe. Quizas.

  2. The distinction between the two ideas of shame is very good. This must be carried further. That clownish Derrida guy has some clever pick up lines of philosophy--he is the game man of philosophy, that Derrida guy, mimicking alpha creators--and one of Derrida's lines, as Moraline remembers, is "the secret is that there is no secret." In other words, a secret is at once an attitude of weakness to others ("I have a secret I cannot tell") and, it its completely different form, an attitude of never sharing what is truly essential or important, the muslim concept of lying to protect the truth.

  3. In Moraline's suffering and solitude, truly great work is coming about.


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