Recent research in the humanities and social sciences suggests that individuals who understand themselves as belonging to something greater than the self—a family, community, or religious or spiritual group—often feel happier, have a deeper sense of purpose or meaning in their lives, and have overall better life outcomes than those who do not. Some positive and personality psychologists have labeled this location of the self within a broader perspective "self-transcendence." This book presents and integrates new, interdisciplinary research into virtue, happiness, and the meaning of life by re-orienting these discussions around the concept of self-transcendence.
The essays are organized around three broad themes connected to self-transcendence. First, they investigate how self-transcendence helps us to understand aspects of the moral life as it is studied within psychology, including the development of wisdom, the practice of moral praise, and psychological well-being. Second, they explore how self-transcendence is linked to virtue in different religious and spiritual traditions including Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, and Confucianism. Finally, they ask how self-transcendence can help us theorize about Aristotelean and Thomist conceptions of virtue, like hope and piety, and how this helps us to re-conceptualize happiness and meaning in life.
Table of Contents
Jennifer A. Frey and Candace Vogler
Part I: Perspectives from Philosophy
1. Epiphanic Moral Conversions: Going Beyond Kohlberg and Aristotle
2. Fundamental Hope, Meaning, and Self-Transcendence
Nancy E. Snow
3. Aquinas on Sin, Self-Love, and Self-Transcendence
Jennifer A. Frey
4. The Place of Virtue in a Meaningful Life
Part II: Perspectives from Theology
5. Law, Virtue, and Self-Transcendence in Jewish Thought and Practice
6. Piety and Virtue in Early Islam: Two Sermons by Imam Ali
7. The Common Good in Aristotle and Aquinas
Kevin L. Flannery, SJ
8. Ethical Supernaturalism
9. Confucian Excellence
10. Virtue, Self-Transcendence, and Liberation in Yoga and Buddhism
Part III: Perspectives from Psychology
11. Wisdom Develops from Experiences that Transcend the Self
Howard C. Nusbaum
12. "I Am What Survives Me": Generativity and the Self
Dan P. McAdams
13. Reacting to Transcendence: The Psychology of Moral Praise
Rajen A. Anderson, David A. Pizarro, and Katherine D. Kinzler
Jennifer A. Frey is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of South Carolina. Her main areas of research lie at the intersection of theories of agency, rationality, ethics and law, with a particular emphasis on the relations among virtue, practical reason, and happiness. She has ten publications in venues such as Analytic Philosophy, Ergo, The Journal of the History of Philosophy, International Journal of Philosophical Studies, and in multiple edited volumes. She is the PI of several grants, including a 2.1 million dollar research project titled, Virtue, Happiness, and the Meaning of Life. She is currently editing a volume titled, Practical reason, truth, and knowledge, and is writing a monograph titled, Action, virtue, and human good.
Candace Vogler is the David B. and Clara E. Stern Professor of Philosophy at The University of Chicago. She is the author of John Stuart Mill’s deliberative landscape: An essay in moral psychology (Routledge), Reasonably vicious, and essays in ethics, social philosophy, and other areas.