Admiration, moral knowledge and transformative experiences

  • Maria Silvia Vaccarezza Università di Genova
Keywords: admiration, moral knowledge, transformative experiences, integrity

Abstract

In this paper, I examine the role played by the emotion of admiration in formulating moral judgments. First, I discuss whether and when admiration is a reliable source of moral knowledge, or, on the contrary, it misleads the subject, leaving her prey to forms of uncritical devotion to unworthy objects of admiration. To do so, I try to elucidate which underlying theory of emotions best allows one to characterize admiration as a reliable source of moral knowledge. Second, I introduce the notion of transformative moral experience, understood as a subclass of transformative experiences (cf. Paul 2014), and I argue that it is precisely admiration that ensures the rationality of the choices made in such experiences. Finally, in light of this analysis, I show how admiration—together with the constellation of positive and negative emotions connected to the perception of moral exemplarity—acts as a central element for the maintenance of moral integrity. I defend, in particular, the idea that integrity should not be understood as mere coherence, nor as a static maintenance of the moral status quo, but as being firmly rooted in one’s own identity yet open to novelty (see Rees and Webber 2014; Cox, La Caze, and Levine 2014, 2017) and especially to the novelty represented by transformative moral experiences.

Published
2019-07-26
How to Cite
Vaccarezza, M. S. (2019). Admiration, moral knowledge and transformative experiences. HUMANA.MENTE Journal of Philosophical Studies, 12(35), 150-166. Retrieved from http://www.humanamente.eu/index.php/HM/article/view/272