As of recent, there has been a great deal of talk about various types of shaming being problematic for various reasons. This widespread talk of shaming (or at least certain types) being problematic coincides with David Velleman’s assertion in his essay “The Genesis of Shame” that our culture today is a shameless one that [desperately] needs to recover its sense of shame.1 Though my affinity with Velleman does not go much further than the assertion that our culture is shameless (or at least heading in that direction) and needs to recover its sense of shame,2 my objective in this paper is to show why shame is important to a life well-lived and ought not be dispensed with. More specifically, the plan is to draw attention to one of the ways in which shame can be productive: shame can solicit commitment from individuals and spur them to take a stance on themselves. If this productive possibility of shame is to be made sense of, however, accounts of shame that place shame at the very ground of intersubjective encounters—such as that of Sartre—must be dispensed with lest shame be deprived of its productive potential as a catalyst for self-discovery and individual growth.
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