The prospect that one may be empowered by wholeheartedly owning, or owning up to, one's shame is, however, more than a bit opaque, and it deserves more careful scrutiny. John Rawls describes shame as "the feeling that someone has when he experiences an injury to his self-respect or suffers a blow to his self-esteem" (p. 442). Now, if this characterization is at all plausible, and if, as many moral philosophers claim, self-respect is a necessary condition for active participation in the moral life, for appropriate participation in social REASON AGAINST SHAME 1 The poet Heine famously speaks of Kant's "world-destroying thought," but Immanuel Kant does more than sweep away preceding understandings of reason and the world and our situation within or in opposition to the world. Kant's work in metaphysics and morals is crucial for modem Western philosophy; it would be difficult to overestimate his influence. Lewis White Beck (1965) offers one summary of this influence by citing what he calls a philosophers' adage: "You can philosophize with Kant or against Kant, but you cannot philosophize without him" (p. 3).