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Self-transformation and Spiritual Exemplars

Victoria S. Harrison, Rhett Gayle

Abstract

This paper focuses on the process of self-transformation through which a person comes to embody the ideal of her religion’s vision of the divine, as far as that ideal is expressible in a human life. The paper is concerned with the self as the subject of religious commitments, traits, religious aspirations and religiously inspired ideals. The self-transformative journey that people are invited to undertake poses a number of philosophical and practical difficulties; the paper explores some of these difficulties, concentrating on those that arise in connection with the notion of potential future selves. This paper suggests that imaginative reflection upon exemplary individuals provides one way through these difficulties, for these individuals can show us what it looks like when someone achieves, or draws close to, the ideal.

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