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lexico
16-03-05, 13:22
Is your society more driven by shame or guilt ?
Does peer pressure reign high, or do standards of behaviour guide people's actions ?
Do you have to think sometimes to see what is right and what is wrong ?
In any instance, were you ever put in an odd spot where you could not make a clear-cut decision ?
Who do you turn to when you have a difficult moral/ethical decision; your peers or the elders ?
Are your decisions made instantly and with relative ease ?

I am Korean. When first exposed to these ideas and questions in a Western Civilization (history, literature, philosphy) class, I was both stunned and fascinated that such a distinction even existed. I still have not found a good cultural translation in my own language. How obvious are these ideas in your culture ?

Keywords: shame, guilt, peer pressure can be seen in relevant contexts in the following.
Civilization by Orson Scott Card (http://www.ornery.org/essays/warwatch/2002-07-29-1.html)

"War Watch
First appeared in print in The Rhinoceros Times, Greensboro, NC
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
By Orson Scott Card July 29, 2002

Civilization, Part I

It's been said that each new generation of children is a barbarian invasion. It's true.

In the Darwinian view, the animal side of our nature requires that parents provide food and protection for their children so they can grow up and perpetuate the family genes.

But our genes do not contain all the information needed to make us human. Much of it is also contained in the society around us -- in the memories and customs of other people, and in the stories and ideas that have been recorded by earlier generations.

Baboons and apes live in small communities, and humans can survive quite nicely in tribes only slightly larger. And the "natural" human seems well-suited to getting along in small tribes.

Mere friction with other children soon teaches youngsters that if you hit somebody, he might hit back harder. Simple imitation would teach them the use of tools.

But in the simple tribe, everybody has to do the same work. When it's harvest time, everybody harvests. Everybody migrates together, builds shelter together. Each person has to learn all the jobs of the tribe.

But civilization -- civil life, city life -- allows far more options. Far more people than a mere tribe -- more people than any one person can know well -- live together, sharing from the same food supply.

With larger numbers, the city is better able to fend off enemies. Because some people stay on watch while others work, fewer workers are needed to grow the food to feed everyone. Public projects like roads and irrigation become possible. And with greater specialization, each person is able to become more expert at his own craft, without being distracted by having to learn everyone else's.

In a civilized society, each person knows more and more about less and less -- but the civitas, as a whole, knows vastly more than any mere tribe could ever learn. The city makes us collectively smarter, more effective, and more powerful.

But civil life requires a different set of rules from tribal life. Money always evolves as a means of trying to create some kind of equivalency between different kinds of work. Property rules must evolve so that specialists can leave their belongings safely behind while they're at work. Marriage laws and sexual mores are required so that spouses don't have to stay together in order to protect their marital investment.

In other words, civil life requires sacrifices. We can't just do whatever we feel like doing. And for civilization to work well, we have to obey these rules even when nobody is watching.

That's what child-rearing is all about. It's not enough to keep our children alive and safe from predators. We have to civilize them.

There are definite skills required, which do not come naturally and must be taught: resistance to temptation, for instance. Delay of gratification. Responsibility. Loyalty. And, yes, even guilt.

When a child sees something he wants, he takes it. When he's hungry, he intends to eat -- now.

But, gradually, as the child gets old enough to understand, parents teach him how to wait for what he wants, and help him learn that there are many things he wants which he can never have, even though other people have them.

Whatever parents haven't taught their children, the children learn in their teens, because at that point peer pressure takes over from parental teaching. This is essential because there are parents who haven't done their job, whose children are greedy, whining, sneaky, or brutal; the pressure to conform, which is relentless in junior high, teaches children to observe the outward forms of civil life, even if they didn't internalize them as children.

The trouble is that peer-raised children have only learned how to appear civilized. Some do internalize the rules they are taught by other children, but by and large the people who are truly civilized are the ones who learned the skills of civilization from their parents.

Parents are the best teachers of the two highest arts of civilization: responsibility and guilt.

That may sound odd, when you consider how much the priests of psychotherapy have invested in trying to get us to shake off guilt. But the fact is that civilization cannot long be sustained without guilt.

Guilt is the inner judge that makes us feel bad about breaking rules even if nobody else knows about it. It's guilt that keeps us from adultery, from cheating, from shoplifting, from slander -- because truly civilized people couldn't bear their own inner punishment if they violated the rules that they have internalized as good vs. evil.

When someone does not have a keen sense of guilt, then the only thing keeping them from breaking rules is shame -- the fear of being caught and punished, either by the law or by social ostracism. Shame-driven people appear civilized, but in fact they are only civilized in public.

When a whole society neglects to instill a healthy sense of right and wrong (i.e., guilt and honor) in their children, then eventually the rules break down. That's because a civilization can only tolerate a certain small percentage of shame-driven citizens. When too many become shame-driven rather than guilt-driven, then breaking the rules becomes the rule, and peer pressure starts to work against, rather than for, civilization.

We see it in schools where cheating has become the rule. On freeways, where speeding is the rule and it's actually dangerous and obstructive to obey the speed limit. On jobs where fellow workers pressure others not to give an honest day's work for a day's pay.

We see it in a society where divorce has become the rule rather than the exception, where it has become normal for couples to start family life without the public covenant of marriage. Where mothers who opt to stay home to rear their children feel they have to apologize for not having a career. Where instead of treasuring the lives of the weak and old, the old guilts are gone and euthanasia, assisted suicide, and abortion are astonishingly common.

When most parents teach their children the rules of civil behavior with firmness and love, so that the children are honored for obeying them, then civilization thrives.

When too many parents fail at this task, the civilization can coast along for a while on the old virtues, on the shame-driven remnants and shadows of the old rules. But once the core of voluntarily obedient citizens becomes scattered and rare, it is not long before there is no more glue holding the whole thing together. The obedient turn inward, refusing any longer to sustain a game in which most of the players are cheating. And at that point the city becomes a collection of bickering tribes. It has no strength. It will not stand.

(That's why the failure to impeach Bill Clinton was such a devastating blow. In the name of "forgiveness" we declared that "everybody cheats" and made it public policy. Civilization depends on the belief -- and the fact -- that cheating is rare, and those who do cheat lose the trust of all and are regarded with contempt. Clinton's election, reelection, and acquittal, followed by the open attempt of the Florida Democratic Party and the Florida Supreme Court to change the rules -- i.e., cheat -- and steal a close election in 2000, may well mark the point when the American people finally gave up on being a civilized nation.)

Next week I'll talk about the other core value that parents must teach their children for civilization to survive: responsibility."

Copyright © 2002 by Orson Scott Card

lexico
16-03-05, 14:01
There was a book published in Japan about 10 yrs ago. I read a review in a Korean newspaper; in translation the book was titled, "Jaywalking isn't scary if you do it in numbers." It was such a strange and funny idea, and the reviewer made mild cultural comments on the so-called Japanese moral blindness and contradictory mind set. Observing my own culture; I am ashamed to say, are we any better ?

Often when I have to drive downtown, I sweat because of the unexpected reckless drivers who fail to calculate the danger factor when going over the line. Reckless driving here is a two-fold problem; both unprincipled and unwise drivers are putting poublic order and road safety at risk. Even when US culture is criticized for being overly righteous and demanding in its JC values, I sometimes wish we were half as strict as them when it comes to moral education.

Why do I have to face opposition when I am only trying to convey a sense of responsibility and duty? If the mutual benefits are not obvious to the young, then I believe it is the responsibility of adults to show them to the children. Although literacy is high, and many hold a bachelors' degree from somewhere, the nation as a whole has been showing disappointing signs, moral breakdowns; I think weak emphasis on moral education has had a negative impact on abstract, universal thinking which is so essential for a truly civilized society.

Shooter452
17-03-05, 21:13
"I'm a Catholic. I can feel guilty about anything!" ADA Ben Stone, Law & Order

That pretty much sums it up. As a Roman Catholic I was brought up to feel guilty about everything. I have shed a lot of those feelings as much as possible over the years, but I do not think that they have ever completely gone away.

They probably never will.

When something is nearly hammered into your DNA helix, it is probably there to stay.

Index
18-03-05, 07:00
Guilt vs shame...I think they are both poor priciples on which to base civilised behavior. Responsibility for one's own attitudes and beliefs are more important I think; when you can identify and analyze your own attitudes and the values presented to you in order to choose which ones have value and for which ones you would stand up. Following that, respect for other people's decisions of how they want to live and what values they believe in, as well as politeness and manners. This helps in maintaining order and preventing social chaos. Having said that, I think Australia's tradition is one of shame for the most part; the Roman Catholic tradition is not as significant here as in other Western countries, and there is the English influence which has helped instill a type of class snobishness, which I think may be related to shame (ie. being seen in a good light in the eyes of your peers and the classes above you). Australia is only now getting over it's inferiority complex in respect to the rest of the world I think.

Doc
19-03-05, 08:53
I'm full of apathy so shame and guilt mean nothing to me. I may sound cold hearted, but it's who I am.

Doc:(:bawling::(

TheKansaiKid
19-03-05, 09:10
I think there really isn't much difference between shame and guilt in fact a dictionary definition of shame is the feeling of guilt:

http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=shame

Main Entry: 1shame
Pronunciation: 'shAm
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English scamu; akin to Old High German scama shame
1 a : a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety b : the susceptibility to such emotion

I think in modern society we feel a need to be free from guilt and think it an outdated notion, but in actuality if you do something bad to someone else or something bad for society as a whole you should feel bad that bad feeling is shame. I think like Card said in Lexico's post all society has a component of shame in it's basis.

As far as Index's post about Australia having an inferiority complex he must be talking about the country not the people because all the Australians I have met were full of pride and confidence (as well they should be coming from such a wonderful place)



thats just my oppinion

I could be wrong

alexriversan
04-04-05, 15:35
i am especially not guilty for others.

responsibility for the own action does not require shame, more to avoid situations/actions which are known to make trouble/are unsocial in nature.
this requires a sense for what is social.

this seems to be similar to the concept "what others may think of me is important to me".

by the way, i have not made up the formula "we are not responsible for your action".

this was written as buisiness term at a website, and i figured out what it means and how effective this formula is.

Maciamo
04-04-05, 16:18
I am Korean. When first exposed to these ideas and questions in a Western Civilization (history, literature, philosphy) class, I was both stunned and fascinated that such a distinction even existed. I still have not found a good cultural translation in my own language. How obvious are these ideas in your culture ?

In Japanese, I would render "guilt" as ߐ (zaiseki, lit. responsibility of wrong-doing/crime/sin), although the dictionary translates it as L (as in the opposite of innocence) or (just "crime", "sin" or "wrongdoing"). So in a way we could say that Japanese language also doesn't have a distinction as it does not distinguish between "crime" (legal) and "sin" (moral) in the first place. Indeed, I feel very much that the Japanese do not have much moral sense, and that they are almost exclusively regulated by laws, shame and peer-pressure. The distinction between guilt and shame exists in all the European languages I know (English, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Dutch), and probably in others as well, as it comes from the overwhelming Judeo-Christian moral - especially the belief that an omniscient god is judging every single of your actions and even thoughts, something that is definitely absent from the Japanese mindset.

In Japanese, "shame" is p (haji), although my dictionary insists on it being a Japanese concept that they translate as "haji-type shame" because, they explain, it is a kind of social and familial shame stronger than in Western countries (yet another misconception of Western countries, as it really depends on the people). So my dictionary says that p (hazukashisa) should be the real translation of "shame", although it also translates as "embarassment", which is definitely not as strong as "shame" in English. Therefore, let me correct my dictionary and say that "haji" is "shame" and "hazukashiza" is "embarassment".



Although the article of Orson Scott Card is interesting, I can feel that this guy is somewhat of a fundamentalist. This passage is especially clearly imbued with Judeo-Christian moral. My stay in Japan has convinced me that this is far from universal or even necessary for the good of society :


We see it in a society where divorce has become the rule rather than the exception, where it has become normal for couples to start family life without the public covenant of marriage. Where mothers who opt to stay home to rear their children feel they have to apologize for not having a career. Where instead of treasuring the lives of the weak and old, the old guilts are gone and euthanasia, assisted suicide, and abortion are astonishingly common.

Marriage does not guarantee a good education for the children. In fact many non-married cohabitaing parents can do as good if not even better a job than married parents. It's just unrelated. Divorce has become normal because before people used to marry for social reasons, while now they marry for love, and love is rarely eternal. I also don't see the problem with working mothers, as long as they don't work too long hours and can take care of the children after school, have someone (eg. grandparents) care about the babies or pay for a private wetnurse then tutor. Uppr-class people (including royalty) have chosen this latter solution for centuries. It's nothing new. Abortion is not a problem within the first 6 weeks, as the nervous system hasn't developed yet. Euthanasia/assisted suicide is usually on request of the person concerned and is a positive thing if it can help them avoid unncessary sufering when they have no chance of recovery.

The point is that guilt is not universal, and only depends on one's moral education. If one was taught that divorce is not a sin or wrong-doing in itself, then why should there be any guilt ? Likewise, if someone was taught that eating meat is a sin, then they will feel guilty if they have to eat some.
I therefore cannot agree with his conclusion that "the American people finally gave up on being a civilized nation" when they forgave Clinton for adultery. And I am not saying that because I am a big fan of American morals, but because moral is not universal, and different moral codes can work just as well in different societies. In fact, morals evolve all the time and depend on the environment in which we live. Anachronistic morals on the contrary can be dangerous for a society - as 2000 to 3000 year old Judeo-Christian morals (should we accept the Old Testament's "an eye for an eye" in today's society ?).

lexico
04-04-05, 16:29
i am especially not guilty for others... responsibility for the own action does not require shame, more to avoid situations/actions which are known to make trouble/are unsocial in nature.
this requires a sense for what is social.
this seems to be similar to the concept "what others may think of me is important to me". You seem to agree with several posters' posts.
That neither guilt nor shame are adequate reasons to base one's action upon.
Your idea of social sensibility makes very good sense to me.
Apart from thinking in terms of "my feelings of guilt or shame", social awareness seems to set the standard of behavior at a much higher one; that of being aware of what is going on. :cool:
In that sense, the terms guilt/shame are quite unbalanced because they seem to emphasize only the negative judgements, either by others or oneself.
by the way, i have not made up the formula "we are not responsible for your action".

this was written as buisiness term at a website, and i figured out what it means and how effective this formula is.How did you understand it ?
1) warning against reckless behavior ?
2) non-interference policy ?
3) apathy towards one's individuality ?
4) validating individuality by defining responsibility ?

alexriversan
04-04-05, 17:09
How did you understand it ?
1) warning against reckless behavior ?
2) non-interference policy ?
3) apathy towards one's individuality ?
4) validating individuality by defining responsibility ?

sometimes people derive rights from what happens to them later on- for example if they use transmitted information for own purposes.
the term means that no reposibility for downloads, derived work, entered discussion, consume descision etc. is taken.

it is positive language as it enables people to take more responsibility for their own action. it does not explicitely forbid to re-use components from the website. (i.e. the yahoo! pumpkin)

people know very well their legal rights to private, personal pictures. additional, i inform that the ownership does not change. people do not like the idea to make theirselves slaves to foreign property.

(foreign=subject to the jurisdiction of another political unit).

i see such a sentence more effective than long listings of legal circumstances.
especially as it is often the action of a person who lets happen something.
most things are not self-operating.

alexriversan
04-04-05, 17:16
.....especially the belief that an omniscient god is judging every single of your actions and even thoughts, something that is definitely absent from the Japanese mindset.....
if you substitute "man made god" with "life-force", many japanese know the concept of "karma". especially action is summed up, imagine the human body as the sheet.

thoughts are more judged by their emotional tone (not by linguistic assignments).

for example, as far as i know, japanese do not like the idea to speak ill of others all day.

Maciamo
05-04-05, 03:06
if you substitute "man made god" with "life-force", many Japanese know the concept of "karma". especially action is summed up, imagine the human body as the sheet.

Are you kidding ? I had to explain to my wife and other Japanese friends what karma was when we went to India. In India people really do know about karma and therefore cannot even get angry for fear of being reincarnated in a lower form of life in the next life. Quite incredible how well it works among Hindus (but of course not on Muslims). Most Japanese are atheists or at least non-religious nowadays. The funny thing is that I met some people who claimed to be Buddhist but weren't even quite sure which sect (http://www.wa-pedia.com/religion/japanese_buddhism.shtml) they belonged to, even when I cited them all to them. Most Japanese people I have met cannot even distinguish a Buddhist temple from a Shinto shrine (although that's quite obvious - see this article (http://www.wa-pedia.com/religion/japanese_temples_shrines.shtml)).

Just ask all the Japanese people you know if they believe that each of their action or thought will determine their next life (if they believe in reincarnation) or whether they will go to heaven or hell (if they believe in that). When I asked, most didn't believe in life after death.

Maciamo
05-04-05, 03:38
Regarding the distinction between shame and guilt, it dawned on me that shame had to be stronger in collectivist societies (like most Asian countries) where people attach more importance to the regard of other people on them, and are more afraid of being ostracised from society, especially from ther family and friends. I also realised that children in collectivist societies sleep with their parents or siblings. Psychologically that means that they need their family to feel secure, which ultimately increases the fear of being rejected by one's family if one does not respect the rules (set by the family or society).

In very individualistic countries, people care less about what their family think of them, and in fact tend to leave their parent's home earlier, and move to further away more easily. So in some way we could say that very individualistic people care less about shame. They maybe care more about honour instead, as the individual must distinguish him/herself to feel worthy.

I would say that guilt is prevalent among individulistic people, while shame is all that matters in collectivist societies. We have also seen that guilt could be either moral or legal. As I explained above in this thread, moral is never universal, and I think that (non-religious ?) people with a strong sense of individualism tend to set their own moral rules. People in a collectivist society wouldn't normally do that (or only about things not clearly defined by society) because the important for them is to "fit in" and do what other people do, without having to think whether it's right or wrong. In that sense it is possible for a society to be very religious and moral and still be collectivist (like most Muslim countries). The social rules will be those imposed by religion. It is a case of perfect fusion between religion and society (and usually also the law), where shame and guilt have fused to reinforce each other. No wonder that people living in such societies feel so strongly about what is good and evil (and that's what the Bush administration is trying to accomplish in the States, copied on the Saudi model).

himagain
29-01-12, 03:19
My society, as I observe it, seems to be driven more by fear, than shame or guilt.