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Emmanuel Levinas, On Escape


“The social aspect of shame is fainter in nausea, and all the shameful manifestations of our body, than it is in any morally wrong act. The shameful manifestations of our bodies compromise us in a manner totally different than does the lie or dishonesty. The fault consists not in the lack of propriety but almost in the very fact of having a body, of being there.”

– Emmanuel Levinas, On Escape

“On first analysis, shame appears to be reserved for phenomena of a moral order: one feels ashamed for acting badly, for having deviated from the norm. It is the representation we form of ourselves as diminished beings with which we are pained to identify. Yet shame’s whole intensity, everything it contains that stings us, consists precisely in our inability not to identify with this being who is already foreign to us and whose motives for acting we can no longer comprehend.”

– Emmanuel Levinas, On Escape

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