1st Edition

The Philosophy of Transformative Experience

Edited By Michael Campbell Copyright 2025
    240 Pages
    by Routledge

    This volume examines the nature and significance of transformative experiences as they occur across a variety of contexts in human life. By treating these events as social as well as individual phenomena, the essays bring to light the various ways in which cultural and institutional forces influence narratives of personal change.

    The ease with which we identify transformative experiences shows their importance for our sense of the potentialities inherent in human life, even while their disruptive character threatens confidence in our capability to make rational decisions concerning our future well-being. Yet, narratives of transformation are not just individual artefacts, but are also given support and structure through social forces including shared languages, practices, and institutions. What are the cultural and institutional contexts which enable this form of self-conceptualisation, and what happens when social changes undermine the cogency of these narratives? The chapters in this volume investigate these issues through a blend of philosophical theory and applied cases, working across the disciplinary boundaries of philosophy and social anthropology.  Contributors investigate topics including recovery from trauma; the role of narratives in gender transition; climate activism; the ethical ramifications of war; the role of media in framing narratives of ethical change; and the university as a site of transformative experience.

    The Philosophy of Transformative Experience
     will be of interest to philosophers working in ethics, political philosophy, and decision theory, as well as scholars and advanced students in anthropology, sociology, and literary studies.

    1. Introduction Michael Campbell

    2. Varieties of Transformation Michael Campbell

    3. What Does it Take to be Transformed? Constantine Sandis

    4. Irreversible Enlightenments: A Reading of Plato’s Meno Sophie Grace Chappell

    5. Individual Epiphany, Social Change: Reflections on Some Conditions of Moral Possibility Nora Hämäläinen

    6. A Light-Hearted Pessimism Ondřej Beran

    7. Environment, Democracy, and Self-Transformation Piergiorgio Donatelli

    8. Popular Culture and Transformative Experience Sandra Laugier

    9. “Now touched by a wave:” Technology, Violence, and Imagination Joseph Wiinikka-Lydon

    10. Coming Unstuck Michael Campbell


    Michael Campbell is Assistant Professor in the Department of Ethics at Kyoto University, Japan. He has co-edited two volumes of Peter Winch’s previously unpublished writings - Spinoza on Ethics and Understanding (with S. Tropper, 2021) and Political Authority: Contract and Critique (with L. Reid, 2024). He is also the co-editor of Wittgenstein and Perception (with M. O'Sullivan, Routledge, 2013).

    “By situating transformative experiences in their broader social and cultural contexts, this collection of essays by respected international scholars pushes a growing area of research in exciting new directions.”

    Antony Aumann, Northern Michigan University, USA