Plato and Wonder

JVF Conference Papers

The observation that philosophy is grounded in wonder, thaumazein, is part of the Platonic legacy which has been adopted and appropriated by thinkers as diverse as
Aristotle, Hegel, Kierkegaard, and Heidegger.

More contemporary thinkers, such as John Llewelyn and R.W. Hepburn, have also sought to come to a deeper understanding of Plato’s declaration, as found in the Theaetetus, that wonder is the arche or beginning of philosophy. Most thinkers who come to grips with Platonic wonder focus on one dialogue alone, namely the Theaetetus, and such a focus is understandable inasmuch as this dialogue contains Plato’s explicit linking of philosophy and thaumazein. In this paper, however, I would like to raise a question which does not receive a great deal of attention in the secondary literature: is there room for an astonishment which has as its focus that which is uniquely human?

Download pdf