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Guilt and Shame in the City: On the Necessities of Moral Legislation is a Course

Guilt and Shame in the City: On the Necessities of Moral Legislation

Nov 21, 2022 - Mar 25, 2023

$25 Enroll

Full course description

Wednesday, March 15, 2023 | 7:00-8:30PM (EDT) - Fully Online Lecture

Eligible for 1.5 CEUs for Psychologists, LMHCs, and Social Workers. 


This event is free to the public. Please use the promotional code ETHICSERIES24 to register at no cost.

This event is $25 for practitioners seeking CEs for this lecture. As per the credentialing bodies, we can only grant CEs for attendance of live events. Please pay and register for the lecture so that we may keep track of your attendance. You CE registration status may not be changed after the event.


Every political community requires a certain degree of self-governance on the part of its citizens. It is impossible to rule, or even live among, those who will not rule themselves. According to Nietzsche and Freud, beneath that commonplace observation lurks an unsavory history of violence, cruelty, and fear. To become civilized, we must turn our aggressive instincts and drives against ourselves. We must learn, in other words, the pain and the pleasure of a bad conscience. If these hermeneuts of suspicion are correct, some questions need to be asked, and some implications need to be followed to their natural conclusions. How did we adopt this masochism? What determines the sources of our guilt and our shame? What, or rather who, actually rules the polis?

In this lecture, we will consider how guilt and shame are essential to the success of any polity, how they are formed (and sometimes reformed) both in the community and the individual, and if they are destined to make us ill. In the course of our investigation, we will come upon some unsettling truths about the nature of political power and what it requires of those who are subjected to it, and those who would wield it.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Explain the centrality of shame and guilt to success of positive law and, by extension, the political community itself.
  2. Describe the relationship of guilt and shame to neurosis and nihilism.
  3. Explain how individuals and communities establish (and disestablish) their sources of guilt and shame.

Timeline and Requirements:

The course will take place on Wednesday, March 15, 2023. This lecture is presenter-led and is a virtual experience. This will be conducted synchronously online via Zoom from 7:00 - 8:30PM (EDT).

CE Sponsorship: 

University Counseling Services of Boston College is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. As a co-sponsor of this program, University Counseling Services of Boston College maintains responsibility for this program and its content. Participants will be eligible to receive 1.5 CE units from University Counseling Services of Boston College.

This program has been approved for 1.5 Social Work Continuing Education hours for relicensure, in accordance with 258 CMR. NASW-MA Chapter CE Approval Program Authorization Number D 91585.

The Lynch School of Education and Human Development is providing sponsorship for CEUs for Licensed Mental Health Counselors (LMHC). Participants will be eligible to receive 1.5 CE units. These credits are accepted by the Massachusetts Board of Registration for Licensed Mental Health Counselors (Category I contact hours in Content Area I).

Participants must attend the lecture in full and complete the post event survey to be eligible to receive CEs.

This lecture does not offer CEs for other clinicians not listed above. 

Fees and Policies:

This event is free if you are NOT seeking CEs towards your license. If you plan on seeking CEs for this lecture, the cost is $25. Once you have registered for the class, your CE registration status is fixed and cannot be adjusted at a later time.  

Payment is due by credit card at registration. Registration closes April 21st at 5pm. Refunds will be granted only up to the time of the lecture. 

This lecture is made possible through the support of Grant 62632 from the John Templeton Foundation. The opinions expressed by these presenters do not necessarily reflect the views of the John Templeton Foundation.

Additional offerings from the Lynch School Professional & Continuing Education Office can be found on our website


William J. Hendel, JD is a teaching fellow and PhD student in the Department of Philosophy at Boston College, who specializes in ethics, political philosophy, and aesthetics. He is the co-editor of misReading Plato with Matthew Clemente and Bryan Cocchiara (Routledge, 2022).