"Shame" Panel for AAR

Some blog readers may be interested in the following, from Nat Barrett of Boston University (for more on the annual AAR meeting, see this post):

I am interested in putting together a panel on the Confucian emotion of shame (chi). I am sure you are familiar with passages in the Confucian classics that indicate the importance of shame for the regulation of the Confucian ideal community (e.g. Lunyu 2.3: “Lead them with de and keep them orderly through observing li and they will develop a sense of shame and will order themselves.”). What exactly is a Confucian sense of shame? How does it differ, if at all, from other kinds of shame? I believe that chi has been neglected by western scholarship (as far as I can tell) so that its role in Confucian thought and practice is not well understood. Perhaps shame has been given a wide berth because of chauvinistic “shame culture vs. guilt culture” comparisons that judge shame to be an inferior emotion. Or perhaps scholars who are concerned to promote the vitality of Confucian thought have skirted the topic for fear of running afoul of modern critiques of shame (e.g., Martha Nussbaum’s Hiding from Humanity, 2004). However, Jane Geaney’s article, “Guarding Moral Boundaries: Shame in Early Confucianism” (PEW 54.2, 2004), indicates that Confucian chi does not fit with the way most discussions of shame are framed. I would like to build on Geaney’s work and put together a panel that seeks to articulate Confucian chi in greater detail, both in historical contexts and in dialogue with western perspectives (my own contribution would probably focus on the latter). Other panel participants might develop a Confucian concept of chi in relation to other important Confucian concepts such as li, or as an important part of Confucian theories of emotion, moral sensitivity, community life, etc.

If you are interested in helping me to put together a panel along these lines, please let me know ASAP.


Nat Barrett


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