Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Is Shame Learned?

This discussion on the BBC website suggests that shame of nudity is not natural but socially conditioned, perhaps to serve social interests in fidelity. It could have implications for our moral codes more generally.

1 comment:

  1. It's actually really unclear whether they think it is 'natural' or 'socially conditioned', whatever that opposition is supposed to mean anyway. For example,

    "Over thousands of generations, we've learned that showing off a naked body sends out sexual signals that threaten the security of mating pairs. And we've chosen to agree that that is a bad thing"

    seems to say that it's evolutionarily advantageous, which suggests that it's at least not conditioned by our society here and now. It's also unclear what this kind of evolutionary psychology just-so story has to say about societies which don't wear clothes, especially since those societies tend to be in other ways most like our hunter-gatherer ancestors. And what the experiment shows is that shame of nudity can be overcome, which says absolutely nothing about its causal origins.