Shame and Self-Consciousness: A Dialogue Between Hegel and Contemporary Studies on Self-Conscious Emotions
How to Cite
The aim of this essay is to examine the Hegelian notion of shame, as a case study to show the fundamental role that this feeling, traditionally conceived as a “negative emotion”, actually plays in the life of the human subject. I will reconstruct Hegel’s conception of shame, starting from some paragraphs of the Philosophy of Subjective Spirit (§§ 401, 472), where shame is described as a form of anger towards one’s self, which is perceived as inadequate. Eventually, I will examine some passages of the Encyclopaedia Logic (§ 24) and the Aesthetics in which Hegel points out how the first man, having become conscious of his own spiritual nature, becomes both aware and ashamed of his nudity. On this basis I will illustrate why for Hegel shame is the constitutive place of self-consciousness. Contextually, I will argue that Hegel’s understanding of shame reveals a certain proximity to the latest psychological studies that emphasize the importance of this “self-conscious emotion” in the formation of subjectivity and underline its relevance with regard to the subject’s evaluative knowledge and moral reasoning.