Sunday, May 20, 2012


While reading a very interesting and insightful paper on the topic by J. David Velleman, I realized that the paper's insights are deeply related to the recent case of a young Rutger's student, Tyler Clementi, who had committed suicide when a roomate had spied on and live-streamed video of Clementi in a romantic tryst with another man.

Clementi was so humiliated that he committed suicide. Yet Clementi was apparently an openly gay person. The video was also not viewed many people (I believe only the roomate and some of his friends) and did not involve very explicit sexual acts. So some may wonder why he became so distraught.

Velleman's account of shame is complicated and builds on a classical account of shame first ingeniously formulated by Augustine (who used the Genesis story of Adam and Eve for support) and is also similar to the account of shame given by Sartre. The paper is densely argued and there are parts that are opaque but definitely worth reading and it is remarkably relevant, I think, to the Clementi case so if interested I suggest reading both the paper and the Clementi case since I don't want to do the paper any injustice by synopsizing the analysis.