Saturday, February 27, 2021


 From TFP:

The sense of shame comes from a metaphysical perspective of the world. It holds that the only way to interpret reality meaningfully is to look beyond the material existence of things. In the classical and Christian traditions, people did this by searching for the ultimate principles and causes of things.

This meant that they tried to understand the nature of things, and from this perception, they derived principles and ways of dealing with the world around them. Thus, they developed those vehicles of the soul found in art, philosophy and religion. They valued the spiritual things over the material; the beautiful over the vulgar; the virtuous over the sinful.

This “metaphysical society” developed a rich body of philosophical ideas, laws and principles. People applied these ideals to the culture and customs of their lands. This vision created high standards of behavior that all were expected to respect. It identified the lower levels of conduct deemed shameful that were unacceptable, immoral and base.

Shame is a product of a society that prioritizes the soul over the body. It is a defense mechanism against all that is low, vulgar and sinful.

In his insightful book, The Cunning of Freedom: Saving the Self in an Age of False Idols, the Polish philosopher Ryszard Legutko explains how the sense of shame is “the reaction of human nature’s loftier elements to the incursion of its baser instincts.”

The ordered soul naturally rises up and clamors against our disgraceful appetites. We instinctively perceive that we are giving in to temptations, weaknesses or bad desires. Our sentiments rebel against these incursions. Shame may even have physical manifestations in the form of blushing and awkwardness.

Thus, when we fail to live up to high standards, we feel shame for our ignoble deeds or words. When we betray faith or family, it should awaken in us sentiments of shame for our perfidy. When we gravely sin, it stings the conscience which calls us to contrition and to seek pardon. (Read more.)


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