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I know two meanings of the word "emulation": 1) 'imitation' and 2) 'rivalry'. In the following excerpt, it seems to mean the former, but I do not understand what is meant by "inspire emulation".

However, there are in the literature of teleology other examples of final cause that appear to be actual or particular beings and not types. Exemplary individuals are said to inspire emulation and thus to bring about imitations of themselves (thus Aristotle’s conception of God as final cause of cosmic order).

closed as off-topic by Hot Licks, cobaltduck, JJJ, Scott, tchrist Apr 15 '18 at 15:52

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  • What does "inspire" mean?? – Hot Licks Apr 5 '18 at 19:42
  • (And what does the phrase beginning "and thus" mean?) – Hot Licks Apr 5 '18 at 19:43
  • @HotLicks, obviously, 'bring about'. – Aharon M. Vertmont Apr 5 '18 at 19:49
  • So what does "bring about immitation" mean? – Hot Licks Apr 5 '18 at 19:51
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    @HotLicks - I think you are being to subtle. To the OP- the answer is in the excerpt itself : inspire emulation <=> bring about imitations. – cobaltduck Apr 5 '18 at 19:53
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I didn't even know the "rivalry" or "jealousy" definitions, but Merriam Webster and OED tell me that these are obsolete or rare. In the sentence you've presented "exemplary" describes someone who sets a good example for behavior, manner, strategic planning, or anything else, so strongly that others feel compelled to want to achieve the same state by imitating/emulating this person. They are inspired to emulate this person.

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Plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery.

Plagiarism has a negative connotation; but, emulation, much less so.

To inspire emulation is a rather sarcastic way of implying something similar.

Students are often encouraged after reading a particular piece of literature or admiring artwork, to try their skills to create something similar. The great works inspire emulation (to be great, admired, cherished, yet original.)

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Exemplary individuals are said to spawn imitations of themselves.

to produce or give rise to

TFD

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