Practices of Wonder: Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives

By Sophia Vasalou (editor)

A multidisciplinary collection of essays exploring the concept of wonder and its significance in religion, philosophy, the arts and the sciences.

ISBN: 9780227173954


Wonder has often occupied a place of unique importance across a variety of human practices and intellectual activities. At different times and historical periods, it has been hailed as the beginning of philosophy and as the end that philosophy should aspire to pursue; as the motive force of scientific quests and their fruit; as the aim of art and the means art uses to accomplish its aims; and as the religious experience par excellence and the hallmark of a deeper spiritual life.

Yet despite the special relationship it has borne to many of our most highly valued intellectual and spiritual practices, wonder remains a neglected and understudied notion. This volume aims to redress this neglect, bringing together a selection of essays drawn from different disciplines to consider the sense of wonder from a number of complementary perspectives.

What is wonder? What role has it historically played in philosophy, science, art and aesthetics, and the religious or spiritual life? Can wonder be dangerous? Is wonder an experience in which we should, or indeed could, aspire to dwell? Why, among human experiences, should it be prized?

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 153 mm
Pages 264

Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

Sophia Vasalou completed a PhD in Islamic Theology at the University of Cambridge in 2006. She has since been a junior research fellow at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, and has taught at the European College of Liberal Arts in Berlin. She is the author of Moral Agents and Their Deserts (2008).


List of Contributors

Introduction by Sophia Vasalou

1. Wonder: Toward a Grammar
     Sophia Vasalou
2. From Biology to Spirituality: The Emotional Dynamics of Wonder
     Robert Fuller
3. Wonder and the Beginning of Philosophy in Plato
     Sylvana Chrysakopoulou
4. Wonder, Perplexity, Sublimity: Philosophy as the Self-Overcoming of Self-Exile in Heidegger and Wittgenstein
     Stephen Mulhall
5. Heidegger’s Caves: On Dwelling in Wonder
     Mary-Jane Rubenstein
6. Wonder and Cognition
     Derek Matravers
7. The Microscopic Glance: Spiritual Exercises, the Microscope, and the Practice of Wonder in Early Modern Science
     Claude-Olivier Doron
8. Literary Wonder in the Seventeenth Century and the Origins of “Aesthetic Experience”
     Alexander Rueger
9. The Conception of Camatkâra in Indian Aesthetics
     Michel Hulin
10. Wonderment Today in the Abrahamic Traditions
     David B. Burrell, CSC

Index of Authors


Endorsements and Reviews

We all recognize wonder, but we are puzzled by what exactly it is. Sophia Vasalou’s multidisciplinary team of specialists unravels the strands of our perplexity, and her own substantial contribution presents the topic with her customary imagination, learning, and originality.
John Marenbon, Professor of Medieval Philosophy, University of Cambridge

Is wonder of importance, and if so, why? This wide-ranging and thoughtprovoking collection of essays can be warmly recommended to anyone with an interest in this intriguing topic.
Jane Heal, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Cambridge

… every essay should interest researchers in religious experience and ritual.
Hugo Enrique Mendez, University of Georgia, in Theological Book Review, Vol 25, No 2