On Shame: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

On Shame

1st Edition

By Michael Morgan


8 pages

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Shame is one of a family of self-conscious emotions that includes embarrassment, guilt, disgrace, and humiliation. On Shame examines this emotion psychologically and philosophically, in order to show how it can be a galvanizing force for moral action against the violence and atrocity that characterize the world we live in.

Michael L. Morgan argues that because shame is global in its sense of the self, the moral failures of all groups in which we are a member – including the entire human race – reflect on each person individually.

Drawing on historical and current affairs to explore the emotion of shame, as well as films such as Night and Fog, Hotel Rwanda and Life is Beautiful and the work of Primo Levi, Bernard Williams, and Stanley Cavell, Michael Morgan illustrates how moral responsibility can be facilitated by calling upon an emotional reaction that is familiar, complex, and central to our conception of ourselves as individuals and as members of society.


'Participating in a recent revival of philosophical interest in the phenomenon of shame and its relation to our identities and practical lives, Michael Morgan's book makes a passionate and philosophically intelligent case for regarding shame as fundamental to the kinds of social beings we are.'

Alice Crary, the New School for Social Research, USA

'Deeply engaging and very easy to read. The subject Morgan addresses is timely and important. On Shame provides philosophical analysis in a way that should be accessible to the educated reader, and mixes this analysis effectively with current events, literature, film and psychology. I suspect many people will be grateful for the help it provides in thinking more deeply about difficult issues that cannot be ignored.'

Marya Schechtman, University of Illinois at Chicago, USA

About the Author

Michael L. Morgan is Chancellor's Professor of Philosophy and Jewish Studies at Indiana University.

His publications include Dilemmas in Modern Jewish Thought, Beyond Auschwitz, Interim Judaism, and Discovering Levinas.

About the Series

Thinking in Action

'Three of the first batch deserve high praise: On Immigration and Refugees, by the great logician (and campaigner for racial equality) Michael Dummett; On Belief, by that master of postmodern paradox, Slavoj Zizek; and On the Internet by Hubert L Dreyfus.' - Boyd Tonkin, The Independent

This is clearly an important series. I look forward to reading future volumes.' - Frank Kermode, author of Shakespeare's Language

Both rigorous and accessible.' - Humanist News

The series looks superb.' - Quentin Skinner

'An excellent and beautiful series.' - Ben Rogers, author of A.J.Ayer: A Life

"Routledge's Thinking in Action series is the theory junkie's answer to the eminently pocketable Penguin 60s series.' - Mute Magazine

'Routledge's new series, Thinking in Action, brings philosophers to our aid.' - The Evening Standard

'A welcome new series by Routledge.' - Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society

Thinking in Action
is a major series that takes philosophy to its public. Each book in the series is written by a major international philosopher or thinker, engages with an important contemporary topic, and is clearly and accessibly written. The series informs and sharpens debate on topics as wide ranging as the internet, religion, the problem of immigration and refugees and the way we think about science. Punchy, short, and stimulating, Thinking in Action is an indispensable series of books for anyone who wants to think seriously about major issues confronting us today.

Edited by Simon Critchley, New School University, USA and Richard Kearney, Boston College, USA

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PHILOSOPHY / Ethics & Moral Philosophy