Practices of Wonder Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives
The book in a nutshell.We think of it as the archetypal passion of childhood—the wide-eyed expression with which children confront a world that is daily filled with novelty and the unexpected. Yet if wonder plays a central role at the beginning of our natural lives, it has also long played a role in the lives we lead in a host of higher practices and disciplined activities. Since the dawn of philosophy, the sense of wonder has been central to the way in which intellectual inquiry has understood its beginnings. Its significance for intellectual activity has been mirrored in a plethora of other domains, including many of our artistic and spiritual practices. Despite its historical importance, efforts to engage the sense of wonder reflectively have been few and far between in recent times. The aim of this collection of essays is to redress this neglect, studying the presence of wonder across a wide range of disciplines, from philosophy and religion to the arts and sciences, with a number of structuring questions: What is wonder, and how has it been historically understood? What roles has it played across different practices? And what does this have to tell us about its value?
Among the topics explored in this volume is the identity of wonder as a linguistic and biological phenomenon; the cognitive constitution of wonder; the place of wonder in the philosophy of Plato, Heidegger, and Wittgenstein; the role of wonder in literary history and 17th-century literary debates; the role of wonder in early modern scientific practice; the notion of wonder in classical Indian aesthetics; and the relevance of wonder for contemporary reflections about religion.
Contributors: Sophia Vasalou, Robert Fuller, Sylvana Chrysakopoulou, Stephen Mulhall, Mary-Jane Rubenstein, Derek Matravers, Claude-Olivier Doron, Alexander Rueger, Michel Hulin, David B. Burrell.