Aristotle, and W. Rhys Roberts. Rhetoric. Mineola, NY: Dover, 2004. Kindle Electronic Edition.
Book II, chapter 6.
Aristotle turns his attention to shame and shamelessness. What provokes those feelings? “Shame may be defined as pain or disturbance in regard to bad things, whether present, past, or future, which seem likely to involve us in discredit; and shamelessness as contempt or indifference in regard to these same bad things” (Aristotle II.6, B 1383b). Moral badness, injustice, and licentiousness, as well as excessive greed or flattering praise can lead to shame. Taking advantage of others’ weaknesses, talking or acting in a self-centered manner, or being left out of due honors can all bring on shame. Aristotle illustrates these causes briefly (Aristotle II.6, B 1383b). He pictures shame as “a mental picture of disgrace, in which we shrink from the disgrace itself and not from the consequences” (Aristotle II.6, B 1384a). We feel shame before people whose opinion matters to us. Aristotle lists many groups of people whose opinion can easily induce shame (Aristotle II.6, B 1384b). He then returns to discuss specific instances in which we might feel shame (Aristotle II.6, B 1385a). As with other attitudes, he concludes briefly to say that we understand shamelessness as the opposite.