|Breathing Space 2013|
“Philosophy”, said Socrates, “Begins in wonder” and the aim of the Breathing Space talks is to provide the time and space to wonder.
Wonder can take us unawares: a new view of the world, like the Hubble photographs of deep space, and we’re surprised by wonder; a glimpse of virtuosity when ordinary skill displays extraordinary artistry, and we’re surprised by wonder.
When he was a journalist, G. K. Chesterton kept a diary about ordinary things: a bed-post or a lamppost, a window-blind or a wall. He wanted to see things freshly, because “the world will never starve for want of wonders, but only for want of wonder.”
Familiarity is the end of wonder. During childhood, when everything is new, wonder is a pure sort of wonder – wanting to know what things mean, how things work, what things are – children are full of wonder all the time, about all sorts of things.
Wonder can be another name for astonishment, admiration, reverence or awe – but it can also be a verb describing something we do, like inquiring into or speculating about something.
So philosophy begins with wonder at the unknown, proceeds through inquiry and finally ends in wonder as silent admiration.
“Wonder is the first passion of the soul” (Descartes Passions de L’âme)
The Breathing Space series of talks so far includes:
2. Knower’s arc
3. Joie de vivre – Joy Itself