Fredrik Westerlund


PhD and University Researcher
e-mail: fredrik.j.westerlund at gmail.com

Project Description:
The purpose of my present research project is to develop a phenomenological analysis of the interpersonal motives and structure of shame. I pursue the argument that shame is rooted in our desire for social affirmation. Furthermore, I argue that shame is constituted by our ability to see ourselves as we think we appear to others. My thesis is that shame is what we feel when, guided by our urge for affirmation, we perceive ourselves as fundamentally despicable and non-affirmable. This analysis is then used as basis for investigating the moral significance of shame. My claim is that shame is a morally deficient emotion since it manifests an attitude that is at once egoistic and collectivist. In shame, we are exclusively concerned with how we appear – as affirmable or non-affirmable – in the light of our urge for social affirmation. I argue that the egoistic-collectivist attitude of shame needs to be contrasted with the possibility of loving and caring for the other person as such. Only such care for the other opens us up to genuine moral motives and claims. Finally, I plan investigate the tendency of shame to transmute into other related emotional states such as depression, contempt, anger, and hatred.

Latest Publications:

  • “Zeit,” Heidegger-Lexikon, ed. Günter Figal, Berlin: de Gruyter, forthcoming 2018.
  • “Ursprung,” Heidegger-Lexikon, ed. Günter Figal (Berlin: de Gruyter, forthcoming 2018.
  • ”Vem vill bli förstådd? Om självförståelse, bekräftelse och kärlek” [Who wants to be understood? On self-understanding, affirmation, and love], Rum för eftertanke: en antologi om att utmana det invanda, ed. Jonas Ahlskog & Mari Lindman, Folkets bildningsförbund, forthcoming 2018.
  • “What Is a transcendental description?” Phenomenology and the Transcendental, eds. Sara Heinämaa, Mirja Hartimo and Timo Miettinen, London: Routledge, 2014, 257–275.               
  • Heidegger and the Problem of Phenomenality [Philosophical Studies from the University of Helsinki 45], doctoral dissertation, Helsinki: Unigrafia, 2014.