12. Feeling Ashamed of Myself Because of You
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12  Feeling Ashamed of Myself Because of You According to most accounts, shame is an emotion that typically focuses on the self, in the sense that its intentional object is the individual who feels it. But if this is on the right track, how is it possible for anyone to feel ashamed of what someone else does or says? Imagine that you are meeting some friends for drinks after work, and you bring along a colleague who happens to be Sicilian. At one point, one of your friends makes a slightly xenophobic comment against Sicilians, implying they are all “Mafiosi,” and you feel ashamed (this example is a modification of the one offered by Scheler; cf. Scheler 1957, 81). Now, if the intentional object of shame is the very emoting subject, then in which sense can one speak about shame here? Obviously you didn’t make the comment, and therefore you seem to have no reason for being ashamed, and yet you are feeling that emotion. This issue has not been addressed in great detail in the philosophical literature on shame, but it deserves further analysis, first because it puts some pressure on the received view, and second because it sheds light on an underexplored variety of shame, and thus on certain aspects of shame in general. We tackle the problem in three steps. In section 1, we begin by thematizing what—despite several differences in the details—could be labeled the “standard” account of shame and, specifically, the rather uncontroversial claim that shame is about the self who feels shame. We then introduce the notion of Fremdscham by discussing the foregoing example.1 This form of shame could be taken to represent a challenge to the standard account. A strategy to dispel this challenge could be to reduce Fremdscham to other kinds of emotions, especially to embarrassment (sec. 1.1), an indignation-like reaction (sec. 1.2), “standard” shame (according to Scheler’s idiosyncratic interpretation) (sec. 1.3), and “fictional” shame (sec. 1.4). We do not deny that these feelings are possible, but we claim that there is a further phenomenon that cannot be reduced to them. Although the main gist of this chapter is that, given the necessary conceptual adjustments (and, in particular, if considered as a salient by-product of group identification), Fremdscham is not a challenge to the standard account, we do believe Alba Montes Sánchez and Alessandro Salice 1.  We use the German word Fremdscham for brevity, but we do not mean to do an ordinary-language analysis of what German mother-tongue speakers mean by this term. More on this later. 230 A. Montes Sánchez and A. Salice that this is an original form of shame, and we therefore end the first section by vindicating its phenomenological credentials. In section 2, we offer our positive account of Fremdscham by claiming that it can be qualified as a genuine and yet peculiar form of shame. It is a genuine form of shame because, in tune with the standard account, this affective response can be argued to be about the self. But it is also a peculiar form of shame because it appears to be triggered by the subject having group identified (i.e., by the subject conceiving of him- or herself as a member of the group to which the shameful individual also belongs). Although the cause or the event prompting shame is not an action or a situation brought about by the subject who is feeling shame, the event or cause can be regarded as salient for the subject, insofar as it is elicited by someone who is seen as an in-group member. Hence it seems plausible to maintain that Fremdscham is about the self, but it is about the self as member of a group. In other words, we suggest that it is possible to defend the claim that Fremdscham is about the ashamed self, if the theory of Fremdscham is supplemented by a theory of group identification. In section 3, we address the possibility that one might feel ashamed of someone with whom the ashamed self apparently does not enter forms of group membership in any substantial sense. We introduce this possibility through an example that, if sound, seems to show that one can feel Fremdscham for persons who are not in-group members. How can our account accommodate such cases? Our tripartite strategy develops along the following lines: (1) this example depicts a related emotion, namely, indignation...


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