Volume 10, Issue 1, Fall 2005
Shaping the Language of Inquiry
Aristotle’s Transformation of the Meanings of Thaumaston
In protreptic passages in three Aristotelian texts (Nicomachean Ethics I.7, Parts of Animals I.5 and Metaphysics A.1–2), there is a close relationship between
the use of the language of thaumaston (marvelous or admirable) and that of timion (honorable). These texts exhibit a progressive opening of Aristotle’s students to further horizons of philosophical awareness, within which is embedded a global transformation of the meanings of thaumaston. They mark the itinerary of a spiritual formation in which a new relationship through language to phenomena and to others liberates the student from a psychology of emulation into a discipline of radically free inquiry.