Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Shame, Honor, and the Spontaneous Orders

Not long ago I wrote on guilt as increasing social cooperation. Well, to this we can include shame and honor. The research discovered that "the threat of shame and promise of honour each increased cooperation by as much as 50 per cent." Frederick Turner pointed out in The Culture of Hope that shame-avoidance is a signature of leftist thinking. These same leftists embrace the individualism developed by the Continental European philosophers that leads to collectivism rather than the true individualism of the Scottish Enlightenment philosophers that sees people as deeply social. Shame and honor are both downplayed by the left -- more, shame is considered a great evil by them. Of course, if shame contributes so social cooperation, then undermining shame results in a reduction in social cooperation. As social cooperation decreases, one begins to need someone to step in to increase such cooperation. The answer for the left is, of course, the government. Which is convenient, since they have since contributed to undermining social cooperation through their helping to eliminate shame from society.

Of course, cooperation is necessary for free markets to work as well. Shame, guilt, and honor all contribute to the conditions necessary for spontaneous orders to emerge, such as free markets, non-profits, and culture. Turner equates shame with beauty. Considering my connection between beauty and spontaneous orders, I am increasingly convinced he is correct.
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