Forum Philosophicum

Volume 27, Issue 2, Autumn 2022

Selected Phenomenological Studies

Magdalena KozakOrcid-ID
Pages 211-235

Le rôle de la honte dans la formation de la subjectivité humaine chez Jean-Paul Sartre et Emmanuel Lévinas

The purpose of the following article is to juxtapose and compare the concept of shame as seen by two contemporary French philosophers, Jean Paul Sartre and Emmanuel Levinas. The fundamental problem that is posed in this article concerns the role and significance of the impact of shame on the formation of human subjectivity. For both J.P. Sartre and E. Levinas, the subject attempts to bear the burden of being in a heroic way and the experience of shame proves to be an important experience in this process. Is it an ontological or ethical experience? Or perhaps metaphysical? For both J.P. Sartre and E. Levinas, shame is a relational experience, i.e., it occurs in relation to You. But does this Other have to come to me from outside? In Sartre’s case, shame appears in the experience of the gaze of the Other, and it is a traumatic experience. The Other interferes with my freedom and challenges me as a subject. The experience of shame makes me aware of my subjugation by the Other. In Levinas, the experience of shame comes originally from within myself. The shame of my own existence demands justification. I can be ashamed in relation to myself. I can be a menace of myself. I don’t need the presence of another human being for this. What unites and what separates the two philosophers in interpreting the experience of shame for human subjectivity?