Wednesday Quotes
Where Has All the Wonder Gone?
August 10, 2016

Juli with flowers

“It is owing to their wonder that men both now begin and at first began to philosophize.”
Aristotle, Metaphysics

Aristotle himself does not explicitly offer a definition of wonder. It is clear, however, that wonder has two essential elements: a seeing, and a feeling.

To wonder one must first of all see something. Something wonderful. There is no shortage of wonderful realities, but often we do not see them as they are. One need not fully comprehend the reality. Rather, wonder requires that we have insight into something great, and thus we realize how far beyond our comprehension that great thing is.

But even such insight is not yet wonder. To wonder is also an affair of the heart. We are moved by wonder. There is a combination of desire and fear: the kind of fear that is appropriate when we desire something seemingly far away. How can we reach this, how can we find the truth, and be true to it? We shudder, in wonder.

Where has all the wonder gone? Perhaps wherever the childlike-ness of children, and of adults, has gone.

This is an age of ‘adult’ stores and entertainment, which are ‘adult’ only in the sense that they mar that childish innocence that should always be protected, in both young and old. It is an age in which the frenetic activity of adults narrows not only their own vision, but pushes children in front of wonder-crushing screens and devices. It is an age in which the education of children corrals them into narrow passages fitting them to be numb partakers of an increasingly consumerist society.

For wonder to be re-discovered, it must be cultivated. Like a flower. In the soil of silence, the water of exposure to the natural world, the manure of self-restraint, the fresh air of handed-down insights, and the sunshine of quality time with loved ones.

We can all learn again to wonder.

Aristotle (384-322 B.C.), student of Plato, tutor of Alexander the Great, has been considered by many to be the greatest ancient philosopher.

Image: a young lady, a few years ago, who still loves flowers.

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  1. Hi Dr. Cuddeback!
    I love this post!
    “We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders.” GK Chesterton

    “Next time a sunrise steals your breath or a meadow of flowers leaves you speechless, remain that way. Say nothing and listen as heaven whispers, “Do you like it? I did it just for you.” Max Lucado

    Wonder, it seems to me, is magnificent gift; and begins us on the path to relationship.

    It also offers us awe.

    Not hard to believe that:
    Three Stanford experiments showed that participants who felt awe, relative to other emotions, felt they had:
    more time available
    were less impatient
    were more willing to volunteer their time to help other people
    more strongly preferred experiences over material products
    experienced greater life satisfaction
    they found that awe alters the subjective experience of time, by slowing it down.
    influences decisions,
    and makes life feel more satisfying than it would otherwise.
    [Melanie Rudd, Kathleen D. Vohs, Jennifer Aaker, Psychological Science. 2012, Vol. 23, 1130-1136]

  2. Malia, As usual, thanks for your insightul comment. Great quotations, and very relevant data. Indeed, wonder is a gift.