Worldly Shame: Ethos in Action, Manu Samnotra
Shameless behavior seems to be on the rise in political life—politicians lie, powerful companies cheat, and extremist groups flagrantly violate rules and norms without facing punishment. In Worldly Shame: Ethos in Action, Manu Samnotra offers a provocative solution to help transcend this shamelessness: shame itself. Samnotra develops a concept of “worldly shame,” where the feeling of shame generates “the awareness that we share and build upon a world with Others” (5). This worldliness is juxtaposed with worldlessness, the alluring belief that one's actions can determine outcomes with no input from others. By recognizing their dependence on others around them, worldly shame can compel people to act with and for others and cultivate political spaces that respect a plurality of voices.
Samnotra develops this concept of shame by drawing on Hannah Arendt's writings, carefully parsing the complexities in Arendt's treatment of shame throughout her work. Chapter two elaborates on how shame contributes to worldliness through an analysis of Arendt's Rahel Varnhagen. Developing worldly shame, or “shame-proneness,” is not always so straightforward, as sometimes shame manifests as “shame-aversion,” which prevents worldliness by “sustaining a narcissistic illusion” (31). Samno
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