Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Joanne Waugh, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Roger Ariew, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Thomas Williams, Ph.D.


Aidōs, Aischynē, Anaeschyntia, Shame


This dissertation provides a thorough examination of the role of aeschynē (as distinct from aidōs) in Aristotle’s conception of human nature by illuminating the political and ethical implications of shame and shamelessness and the effect of these implications in his treatises. It is crucial, both to one’s own personhood and eudaimonia as well as to the existence of a just and balanced state, that aeschynē be understood and respected because of the self-evaluating ability that it maintains.

The aim of this work is to show that a recognition and appreciation of aeschynē as understood in Aristotle’s conception of human nature simultaneously leads to eudaimonia and away from the dangerous state of anaeschyntia (shamelessness). Aeschynē is required in order to create a better existence both on the personal level and on the larger level of social community. The function and responsibility of aeschynē in Aristotle’s work is recognized in its full potential as a civic virtue: specifically, metriopatheia.

Metriopatheia, which is aeschynē properly energized through phronesis, acts as a tool allowing one to moderate her passions. It is essential to recognize Aristotle’s use of aeschynē as metriopatheia because it sheds new light on Aristotle’s conception of human nature. The rational human soul, according to Aristotle, is always striving for full actuality. The goal of human life, like all life for Aristotle, is proper function with excellence. Aeschynē as metriopatheia is responsible for the moderation of one’s passions thus promoting aretē. Aeschynē offers insight into the opinions of those who are ethical and thus produces right reason in actions. One who is anaeschyntia cannot reach her full potentiality nor can she be a contributing member of the political community, the koinōnia.

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Philosophy Commons