Self-Blaming, Repentance, and Atonement
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Self-blaming expressions are common. For example, “I blame myself for missing the deadline;” “I’m the only one to blame for my alcoholism;” “I can’t stop blaming myself for what he did to me;” “Bless me Father, for I have sinned;” “My bad, I’ll pay for it;” “I’m so ashamed of having done that;” and, “Damn me, I’ve done it again!”
Self-blame occupies a sizable chunk of what is published in academic psychology, but there is not that much on the topic in philosophy. My intent is to offer some thoughts and explorations about self-blaming in the context of a wider view of negative responsibility ascriptions that are not uttered at the time of the untoward action, and to use a distinction drawn in a piece from the psychological literature to suggest a link between a certain kind of self-blame, repentance, and acts of atonement.
Self-blaming is a form of holding oneself responsible, a way of expressing a negative self-reactive attitude subsequent to the performance of an...