published on September 15, 2015
Kevin Patrick Tobia
Wonder and Value
Wonder’s significance is a recurrent theme in the history of philosophy. In the Theaetetus, Plato’s Socrates claims that philosophy begins in wonder (thaumazein).
Aristotle echoes these sentiments in his Metaphysics; it is wonder and astonishment that first led us to philosophize. Philosophers from the Ancients through Wittgenstein discuss wonder, yet scant recent attention has been given to developing a general systematic account of emotional wonder. I develop an account of emotional wonder and defend its connection with apparent or seeming value. Recently, several philosophers invoke wonder to back non-eudaimonistic value judgments. I introduce methods to incorporate these judgments into a eudaimonistic moral framework. On the analysis presented, wonder requires its object to seem valuable, but whether the object is in fact valuable remains an open question. Wonder enraptures us with objects that might be of true or merely illusory value, grounded either in our own well-being or in non-eudaimonistic value.