xíng jǐ yŏu chǐ 行己有耻
Conduct Oneself with a Sense of Shame
The term is from The Analects. From the point of view of Confucius, the cultivation of moral conduct is not only words and deeds in accordance with social norms, but more importantly one should have a sense of shame about personal inadequacies and violations of moral conduct. Moreover, stimulated by a sense of shame, one can correct and perfect self-conduct in accordance with moral and social norms. The establishment of a sense of shame is an important goal of Confucian teaching.
Zigong asked, “What qualifies a person to be called a shi (roughly referring to those at the social stratum between the aristocracy and the common people)?” Confucius said, “He who conducts himself with a sense of shame, and does not disgrace the tasks entrusted by his sovereign when dispatched elsewhere, may be called a shi.” (The Analects)
Confucius said, “If people are guided by governmental decree and made to behave themselves through punishments, they will avoid punishment, but will have no sense of shame. If they are guided by morality and behave themselves in accordance with social norms, they will have a sense of shame and will follow rules.” (The Analects)