International Studies in Philosophy Monograph Series


The World as Aesthetic Phenomenon

Stephen David Ross
Pages 269-356


wonder is the feeling of a philosopher, and philosophy begins in wonder. He was not a bad genealogist who said that Iris [the messenger of heaven] is the child of Thaumas [wonder].1 (Plato, Theaetetus, 155d) When our first encounter with some object surprises us and we find it novel, or very different from what we formerly knew or from what we supposed it ought to be, this causes us to wonder and to be astonished at it. . . . I regard wonder as the first of all the passions. (Descartes, PS, 350) Wonder . . . is the passion of that which is already born and not yet reenveloped in love. . . . It is the passion of the first encounter. And of perpetual rebirth? . . . the place of incidence and junction of body and spirit, which has been covered over again and again, hardened through repetitions that hamper growth and flourishing (croissance et épanouissement [unfolding, blossoming])? . . . A third dimension. An intermediary. Neither the one nor the other. Which is not to say neutral or neuter. The forgotten ground of our condition between mortal and immortal, men and gods, creatures and creators. In us and among us. (Irigaray, ESD, 81–2)