Shame on You: The Virtuous Use of Shame in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics

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Aristotle presents shame as a non-virtue, but through a careful analysis of his definition and discussion of shame the reader can conclude that there is an appropriate type of shame; a prospective as opposed to retrospective feeling of shame. This prospective shame one of the best ways a well-bred youth can be led to the acquisition of virtuous character. This paper will explore Aristotle’s understanding of shame as explained in both the Nicomachean Ethics and in his broader corpus, and will examine who can possess shame, how it can be used to teach virtue, and the impact of polis upon this process.

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