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8/29/12 questions and discussion

From: Jon A.
Sent on: Tuesday, September 4, 2012 11:18 AM
8/29/12 questions and discussion

1-what might some of the downsides of civilization be?5
2-what is the use of dialogue?5
3-where does embarrassment come from?7
4-when is it good to take something for granted?2
5-what are the costs/benefits of ageism, or is it even there?4
6-what is the value of merit?4


where does embarrassment come from?

Lucy: I was boogying down/dancing in my car as I drove here, waving at the people who were staring at me. I felt good. Sometimes I feel embarrassed doing the same kind of thing. Why? Alternative: with a new friend recently I felt embarrassed when I couldn't find the key to a door at my home. Even at the time I remember thinking this is not a big deal, why be embarrassed? Yet I was!  

Eric: what's the difference between embarrassment, shame, and guilt?

Lucy: good question! 

Eric: I hear those terms used interchangeably.  

Art: malice means no guilt or shame!

ERic: but later you might feel either/both as you remember what you did. As kids we made fun of a neighborhood kid with autism. Mom said "you all should be ashamed of yourselves." We all felt guilty -- after the fact, not during.

Lucy: is there a difference between shame and being ashamed?

Danny: shame comes from others, ashamed comes from within.

Jon: could shame be guilt plus feeling?

Eric: no. Therapists will tell us not to be ashamed of anything.  Maybe there are things we ought to be ashamed of.

Jon: how do we know what to be ashamed of?

Lucy: shame is bigger than embarrassment. 

Jon: is embarrassment the result of not fitting in?

Eric: embarrassment could be the result of a mistake. Once I got someone's name wrong for a long time. Embarrassing. 

Lucy: embarrassment comes from Adam and Eve because they, after eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, knew they were naked for the first time.

Danny: shame is being a burden, guilt is being a burden to others. Embarrassment is a vulnerability to judgement from others. It's the need for community, support, being nurtured, accepted by those around us. We long to be defined as worthy in some sense.

Lucy: do we ever restrict ourselves in order to fit in?

Danny: of course! I "misbehave" sometimes in church and those around me would react adversely. I used to look in the mirror with other people's eyes. I wanted them to see me in certain ways so I would practice in a mirror. Adam and Eve's knowledge of good and evil was not recommended, discouraged by god. They realized they were naked with the newly acquired knowledge. They then were aware that nakedness is unacceptable, essentially, so hide it with clothing.  

Sean: do dogs get embarrassed?

Jon: my cat is quite old now and sometimes loses her footing -- very un-catlike! I sometimes think she seems embarrassed when that happens.

Lucy: I think dogs are stoic when in pain in order to hide injury or illness; it's a survival thing.

Sean: that's why our face flushes/the reaction. It's from the part of our brain that's elemental (the reptile brain). There's something human about it too. We have to be aware of ourselves when we behave well or badly. If we drink too much we care less about what other's think and we tend to behave badly under that influence. Then it has to be connected to self-awareness. 

Jamie: my dog gets used to her place in my room. If she have an accident in that room she is embarrassed. 

Sean: most of our species has done a lot to overcome the false assumptions earlier made about women in Menses. But there still is the Taliban's burkha. Is that just because men got freaked out? Lastly, my mother who is very liberal won't watch Game of Thrones because it has too much sex and violence. Are we too desensitized to sex and violence? Are we no longer embarrased by anything?

Ben: thinking of the difference between shame and embarrassment. Maybe embarrassment is lighter, not so deep seated/central to one sense of self. 

Jamie: what about being embarrassed for others?

Ben: yeah, when a comedian bombs or an actor is bad I feel embarrassed for them. It's why I sometimes don't want to go to live theater. Perhaps this is a function of empathy/sympathy.

Art: I like the purely human thing. Dog's gestures signify status.  Embarrassment is a civilizing device. Posturing or assumptions about how we ought to behave exist for the higher people in a culture in order to maintain control of the group. Right out of the primates. It's telling that Eve was blamed for this loss of innocence, she was a scapegoat, women were kept out of hierarchy for her "guilt." Of course it's metaphor and myth but it was used to keep women in their place. Part of the Do's and Don'ts to maintain power for those at the top of our cultural food chain. An extension of posturing to maintain power. People seeking truth are always put in positions of being embarrassed. Like Einstein, if we want to do something we have to be willing to not fit in.

Mike: did we establish we can really only be embarrassed because we're in the presence of another person? 20 years ago a relative of mine died of AIDS. I agreed to go pack up his belongings. I went through his stuff, found photos of him in compromising positions, I was not embarrassed but decided to turn it over to someone else in his family and then assumed they would be embarrassed. The book Preservation of Self in Everyday Life likens the human experience to being onstage. Embarrassment interrupts the signal we want to send, the performance we wish to make. It betrays something. In agreement with Art's last point, Lenny Bruce was an inevitable occurrence after the uptight living we did in the 40s and 50s.

Eric: causality, what is causing shame. Lucy described the injured animal's stoicism. In my training for being a referee for Rugby we are taught that one symptom of concussion is that the athlete typically tries to hide its symptoms. Perhaps as in hunter gatherer times the sick/injured are left behind, so like other animals we instinctively try to conceal our pain. I'm embarrassed that this chair makes me too comfortable while all of you sit on hard benches! 

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