"Perhaps truth is a woman"
on shame and philosophy
What are we actually ashamed of? According to the psychoanalytic concept, shame, must relate to some kind of deficit. But my clinical encounters with shame-ridden patients suggest that there is no such deficit.This paper argues that, in the philosophical tradition, shame refers not to some deficit, but to the actual truth of the subject. Ever since classical Greek philosophers began thinking about it, truth has been understood as a thing which is knowable in itself (i.e. in its substance or essence), or in other words, in the way that it was created by nature – without any human interference. Therefore, then, culture becomes a realm within which people interfere, and therefore a realm in which truth is hidden by shame. But, subsequently, when these veils are torn apart, i.e. when we transgress our cultural laws, our true nature then becomes visible. So, the capability of bearing shame is perceived as gateway to truth. It is in this context that shame both marks the border between culture and nature and also subverts it at the same time.In this paper three different concepts of the intimate relationship between truth and shame are illustrated – those of Plato, Rousseau and Nietzsche – and the question, of why is it that truth, which only becomes visible in shame, can be equated to Heidegger's "nothingness' is addressed.
Strassberg, D. (2011)., "Perhaps truth is a woman": on shame and philosophy, in H. Kenaan & I. Ferber (eds.), Philosophy's moods, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 69-85.
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