Environmental Ethics

Volume 27, Issue 3, Fall 2005

Kathleen Dean Moore
Pages 265-277

The Truth of the Barnacles
Rachel Carson and the Moral Significance of Wonder

Beginning with Rachel Carson’s small book, The Sense of Wonder, I explore the moral significance of a sense of wonder—the propensity to respond with delight, awe, or yearning to what is beautiful and mysterious in the natural world when it unexpectedly reveals itself. An antidote to the view that the elements of the natural world are commodities to be disdained or destroyed, a sense of wonder leads us to celebrate and honor the more-than-human world, to care for it, to protect its thriving. If this is so, then a sense of wonder may be a virtue, perhaps a keystone virtue in our time of reckless destruction, a source of decency and hope and restraint.