Review Of "Guilt: The Bite Of Conscience" By H. Katchadourian

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Guilt is a signal contribution to the study of human emotions generally and guilt in particular. Katchadourian (Stanford) brings together reports of guilt and studies from various fields: psychology, neuroscience, religion (including Asian religion), biology, law, and philosophy. While these do not always mesh well, Katchadourian is judicious in giving each its say before suggesting where he thinks the truth lies. He argues that guilt must be understood and distinguished from its "neighbors": regret, remorse, shame, disgust, and embarrassment. As might be expected, some discussions are, if not superficial, too brief to be convincing. But Katchadourian always points readers in directions to pursue approaches in greater depth. As a philosopher, this reviewer thinks the book would have benefited from delving more into the philosophical literature on the subject of the emotions, e.g., Richard Wollheim's On the Emotions (CH, Feb'01, 38-3271), Gabriel Taylor's Pride, Shame, and Guilt: Emotions of Self-Assessment (CH, May'86), Anthony Kenny's Action, Emotion, and Will (1963), and Robert Gordon's The Structure of Emotions (CH, Apr'88). That said, Katchadourian's book is subtle, generous, and both informed and informative. It also has the rare merit of adhering to solid academic standards yet being accessible to a general literate audience. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-level undergraduates through faculty/researchers; general readers.


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