May 22, 2019

Rubenstein on wonder

From minute 12:30 of this great Expanding Mind interview:

That feeling of unmoored-ness and sort of wise unknowing is what [Socrates] is referring to, at least in the Platonic dialogues, particularly Theaetetus.

Wonder, in that sense, is uncomfortable, it's related to fear, to a bit of nausea, to queasiness. It's amazement, but a sort of frightened amazement. Not just a kind of placid, excited happiness about things.

In the Aristotelian mode, and this comes right on the heels of Plato, wonder becomes really confined to the beginning of philosophy. It's this brief discomfort that makes you want to know more. And then the moment you end up knowing more, you shut that wonder down. Then you use a little more wonder to learn something more complicated, then you shut that wonder down.

So, in the Aristotelian register, [wonder] is more of this initial spark, but it's not what we're aiming for. Whereas for Socrates, it's what we're aiming for. We want this creative, unknowing form of wisdom.