Could anyone point me to some authors who have discussed the theme of embarrassment in depth? I couldn't find anyone with basic Google search. I was hoping there must be some works regarding the theme of embarrassment (just like Kierkegaard has written extensively on Anguish, B. Williams on shame.)

Depending on the very little knowledge I have of philosophy, the closest I am able to think of is the concept of Gaze that is given by Albert Camus. Since it appears to me that this imaginary Gaze plays the very fundamental role in the feeling of embarrassment. But since such an imaginary Gaze is also present in the feeling of shame, what is it that distinguishes between shame and embarrassment?


2 Answers 2


I don't know of a major philosopher who has analysed embarrassment at length as as a focal concept, but Purshouse provides a useful short analysis. You will find, I think, that a fair amount of conceptual analysis of embarrassment is done in books that are classified as psychological but also treat the subject philosophically. You might try :

Luke Purshouse, 'Embarrassment: A Philosophical Analysis', Philosophy, Vol. 76, No. 298 (Oct., 2001), pp. 515-540. (Philosophy)

B. Szabados, 'Embarrassment and Self-Esteem', Journal of Philosophical Research 15 (1990), 341-9. (Philosophy)

Dacher Keltner and Cameron Anderson, 'Saving Face for Darwin: The Functions and Uses of Embarrassment', Current Directions in Psychological Science, Vol. 9, No. 6 (Dec., 2000), pp. 187-192. (Not philosophy but with philosophical bearings)

W. Ray Crozier, ed., Shyness and Embarrassment, ISBN 10: 0521172195 / ISBN 13: 9780521172196. (Not philosophy but with philosophical bearings)

Christopher Ricks, Keats and Embarrassment, ISBN 10: 0198128290 / ISBN 13: 9780198128298. (Not philosophy but with philosophical bearings)

Robert J. Edelmann, The Psychology of Embarrassment, ISBN 10: 0471914290 / ISBN 13: 9780471914297 Published by Wiley, 1987. (Not philosophy but with philosophical bearings)

Tangney, June Price, Self-Conscious Emotions: The Psychology of Shame, Guilt, Embarrassment, and Pride, ISBN 10: 0898622646 / ISBN 13: 9780898622645 Published by The Guilford Press, 1995. (Not philosophy but with philosophical bearings)


Being and Nothingness, Part 3, Chapter 1: The look (Jean Paul Sartre)

I recommend

Understanding Existentialism, Chapter 4: Sartre: hell is other people (Jack Reynolds)

as an explanation for Sartre's "The look" which links between Sartre's famous "Hell is other people" and "The look".

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