Daily Archives: March 25, 2015

Philosophy & Wonder

Philosophy: An Introduction to the Art of Wondering

I have taught out of several hundred philosophy books in my college teaching career. One textbook, Philosophy: An Introduction to the Art of Wondering, had a prelude with a futuristic photo of a spaceship, missile launching, or futuristic house (depending on the edition) along with a few words from the author. It set the tone for the exploration upon which my students and I were about to embark.

Those words were simple, although philosophy is generally a difficult, esoteric pursuit. They were written by a professor who wanted to communicate with his heart, not impress students with his intellect. I think they wonderfully communicated the value of philosophy, especially for the uninitiated. Here is what he wrote:

The following pages may
lead you to wonder.
That’s really what philosophy
is—wondering.

To philosophize
is to wonder about life—
about right and wrong,
love and loneliness, war and death.
It is to wonder creatively
about freedom, truth, beauty, time
and a thousand other things.
To philosophize is
to explore life.
It especially means breaking free
to ask questions.
It means resisting
easy answers.
To philosophize
is to seek in oneself
the courage to ask
painful questions.

But if, by chance,
you have already asked
all your questions
and found all the answers—
if you’re sure you know
right from wrong,
and whether God exists,
and what justice means,
and why we mortals fear and hate and pray—
if indeed you have completed your wondering
about freedom and love and loneliness
and those thousand other things,
then the following pages
will waste your time.

Philosophy is for those
who are willing to be disturbed
with a creative disturbance.

Philosophy is for those
who still have the capacity
for wonder.