Themes in Transformative Experience

April 11, 2017
American Philosophical Association, Pacific Division

1900 5th Ave
Seattle 98101
United States

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Themes in Transformative Experience: metaphysics, aesthetics, epistemology, and philosophy of mind

Pre-conference of the 2017 Pacific Division Meeting of the American Philosophical Association

Seattle, WA
April 11th, 2017
The Seattle Westin

Transformative experience connects to a wide range of philosophical topics. An experience can be epistemically transformative by teaching you something distinctive in virtue of having the experience, and thereby enriching your ability to imagine, represent, and predict. An experience can be personally transformative by transforming some of your core values or preferences. Of special interest are cases in which one kind of transformation leads to the other, or in which an experience is both epistemically and personally transformative; examples of such cases may include becoming a parent, changing a sense modality, fighting in a war, or undergoing a religious conversion. Questions raised by transformative experience include: Do epistemically transformative experiences create new concepts or abilities in those that have the experiences? Are transformative experiences best understood by appeal to perspectival or indexical notions, or to the notion of the de se? Should they be taken to involve the destruction of the self, or of the replacement of one self with another? What is the perceptual content of a transformative experience? Can transformative experiences provide us with knowledge of ourselves? Do they lend support to probabilistic conceptions of knowledge? Do they reveal the need for empathy, not just for others who exist now, but for one’s own possible selves, especially possible future selves? Can one imagine the nature of a transformative experience? Can one learn everything about the nature of transformative experiences through testimony from those who have had them? Are transformative experiences valuable in themselves, or do they reveal a kind of value that is otherwise hidden? Do they show that the space of utilities associated with a decision problem may be gappy or otherwise not well-defined? Can artistic or other aesthetic experiences be transformative?

The workshop aims to explore the connections between transformative experience and topics in a range of areas in philosophy, with particular attention to themes in metaphysics, aesthetics, epistemology, and philosophy of mind.



Shamik Dasgupta, 'How to be authentic'
Trenton Merricks, 'Identity, self, and transformation'
Sarah Moss, 'Probabilistic knowledge and transformative experience'


Invited speakers

Nomy Arpaly
Kati Balog
John Campbell
Josh Dever
Martin Glazier
Amy Kind
Jennifer Lackey
Enoch Lambert
Carla Merino-Rajme
Nick Riggle
Barbara Montero
Raul Saucedo
Meghan Sullivan
Evan Thompson


Register online at

Further inquiries may be addressed to Martin Glazier (

Pre-Conference Organizers:
L. A. Paul, UNC Chapel Hill
Martin Glazier, UNC Chapel Hill

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April 11, 2017, 5:00am PST

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