When Shame Vanishes
Hesiod gives a remarkable description of a degenerate culture by pointing to several of its hallmark characteristics. This one is particularly chilling.
“Shame” for the Greeks refers to a crucial human passion: one that recoils from what is wicked or indecent. The feeling of shame is rooted in an insight—be it ever so subconscious or pre-conceptual—an insight into the real distinction between good and evil. Indeed true shame springs from an appreciation that moral uprightness is precious, and its opposite repulsive.
While to feel shame for evil is natural, just how deeply and about what we feel it is subject to our social and moral environment. Cultivation of proper shame is a hallmark of civilization.