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It drives me a bit crazy that this whole debate never bothers to look at the history of philosophy. I mean, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, existentialism, philosophy of religion writing about conversion experiences... - it’s as if they had never existed. And so much of literature is about people’s transformative experiences, especially, but not only, biographical and autobiographical writing! For an encyclopedia entry, it would be really nice to at least gesture to the fact that outside of Anglophone analytic philosophy, people have thought about transformative experiences before, even if they did not use that label.

Marcus Arvan

Hi Lisa: I was thinking about that just yesterday, and am glad you brought it up. I would love to locate the encyclopedia entry in a broader historical (and non-anglophone) context. If you or anyone else has suggestions for particular works I should look at, I’d be very appreciative!


Following on Lisa's thought, clearly Sartre also writes on this sort of experience. Sartre notes that we are often making the most important choices in conditions in which we cannot know what we will become in light of our choice. Indeed, van Fraassen (2002) picks up on this and applies it to science in The Empirical Stance (page 151- ...). We neglect our history too often, and then rediscovery things.


I've got all of the Res Philosophica papers. I'll email them to you!


Shameless self promotion: https://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/WXpVuVBq87uHVCEIVPHm/full

Marcus Arvan

Thanks so much, Rosa - received!

Marcus Arvan

Hi Mark: There's nothing wrong or shameless in my view with promoting your work. I'm sure you worked hard on it, and if it is relevant to the topic by all means draw attention to it. For my part, I wish philosophers were less averse to "shameless self promotion." Philosophy in my view would only benefit if we promoted works and discussion more than we do.


A must is Sartre’s „Existentialism Is a Humanism“ (available e.g. here in English: https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/sartre/works/exist/sartre.htm). It has the example of a young man having to decide between fighting in a just war or caring for his aging mother, and the impossibility of choosing between these options on the bases of some ethical theory or other. As to Kierkegaard, the notion of „leap of faith“ is central.
This is not my field of expertise, and others might be better able to point you to specific passages.

Sam Clark

Self-promotion: Samuel Clark, 'Narrative, Self-Realization, and the Shape of a Life', Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 21(2018):371-385 makes some use of the idea of TE.

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