A Remorseful Criminal: Searching for Guilt in Aristotle
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While instances of shame are plenty in Ancient Greek sources, it is notoriously difficult to identify a case of a wrongdoer who exhibits a reaction approximating our modern concept of guilt. Adopting a behavioural criterion for demarcating shame from guilt, I examine the most promising description of a guilt-feeling from Aristotle’s Ethics. The description stands out from the earlier tradition by reversing the pattern of the behavioural tendencies of a wrongdoer, but fits well with the phenomenon of inner shame. The condition described by Aristotle can thus be conceived as self-shaming, but one that exhibits some of the features that have more in common with guilt.