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?
List of Contributors
Introduction by Sophia Vasalou
1. Wonder: Toward a Grammar
2. From Biology to Spirituality: The Emotional Dynamics of Wonder
3. Wonder and the Beginning of Philosophy in Plato
4. Wonder, Perplexity, Sublimity: Philosophy as the Self-Overcoming of Self-Exile in Heidegger and Wittgenstein
5. Heidegger’s Caves: On Dwelling in Wonder
6. Wonder and Cognition
7. The Microscopic Glance: Spiritual Exercises, the Microscope, and the Practice of Wonder in Early Modern Science
8. Literary Wonder in the Seventeenth Century and the Origins of “Aesthetic Experience”
9. The Conception of Camatkâra in Indian Aesthetics
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