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

 

 

When it comes to certain wonder-full things in the world around us, life experience can have a stultifying effect in our souls. We become ‘used’ to things. So we seldom, or perhaps never really notice them–any more.

We can do an imaginative exercise. Consider if somehow you came into the world as an adult, and so you have never experienced the things outside your back door. Yet you somehow have a mature mind and are really able to perceive what is there.

You walk through the woods. You look around. You see, hear, smell, and feel. Imagine what sentiments of awe, what wonder you would experience!

We might consider it this way. Let us try to put ourselves in the body of a child. Let us see the world again, from a fresh and new perspective—the perspective of not feeling like we have already seen. In this we have an advantage over the child: we can bring with us our experience, which can make our ‘return’ to our beginning richer. This is a true advantage as long as it doesn’t have the opposite effect, which it often does; as long as it doesn’t make us not-see, because we feel or think that we have already seen.

This is the structure of growth in wisdom. Not all growth in knowledge is a growth in wisdom. We can add to our store of information, without any re-cultivation or going deeper in the old ground. Growth in wisdom entails a going deeper into something we’ve already seen.

Wisdom is somehow a combination, perhaps we should say a blending, of the deeper insight from experience with the fresher, wonder-filled vision of inexperience. We can cultivate wonder again; we can go back and rediscover it.

I had intended this week simply to try to imagine what such a walk-of-the-wise in the woods might be like. I was going to focus on the wonder-full reality that some material things are actually alive. But here is what I will do. Next week let us go on such an imaginative adventure. And perhaps for a few weeks we can wander with wonder through a few well-worn paths of our lives in this amazing world of ours.

[In the video linked above I give a brief account of a post-super-bowl ‘healing’ by a walk outside.]

 

Rediscovering Wonder Mini-Series

I. Rediscovering Wonder

II. That Tree is Alive!

III. Some Matter Can See!

 

Aristotle (384-322 B.C.), student of Plato, tutor of Alexander the Great, has been considered by many to be the greatest ancient philosopher. Metaphysics is his study of the deepest aspects of reality.

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