Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The sense of wonder

Always wonder:

The unique and original relation to being that Plato calls “theoria” can only be realized in its pure state through the sense of wonder, in that purely receptive attitude to reality, undisturbed and unsullied by the interjection of the will. “Theoria” is only possible in so far as man is not blind to the wonderful fact that things are. For our sense of wonder, in the philosophical meaning of the word, is not aroused by enormous, sensational things — though that is what a dulled sensibility requires to provoke it to a sort of ersatz experience of wonder. A man who needs the unusual to make him “wonder” shows that he has lost the capacity to find the true answer to the wonder of being. The itch for sensation, even though disguised in the mask of Bohème, is a sure indication of a bourgeois mind and a deadened sense of wonder.

To perceive all that is unusual and exceptional, all that is wonderful, in the midst of the ordinary things of everyday life, is the beginning of philosophy.

Joseph Pieper, “The Philospophical Act,” in Leisure: The Basis of Culture, trans. Alexander Dru (New York: Pantheon, 1952).
As an undergrad, I heard Pieper’s book recommended many times. Now that I’ve gotten around to reading it, I feel far removed from any world in which its assumptions were common currency. But I did come away with this passage.

A related post
Powders, pencils, mountains, cigars (William Carlos Williams and Wallace Shawn)

[Theoria, θεωρία: “a looking at, viewing, beholding, observing”; “of the mind, contemplation, reflection” (A Lexicon: Abridged from Liddell and Scott's “Greek-English Lexicon”).]

comments: 2

Frex said...

"a bourgeois mind" LOL
The horror, the horror....

Michael Leddy said...

Yes. I would shudder to have one. LOL.

That bit does remind me though of a colleague who held that to judge any work of art, you must know the most “extreme” examples. Thus GG Allin, John Waters, and so on.