Monday, May 27, 2013

Philosophy Begins in Wonder

"This especially is the feeling of a philosopher; wonder. There is no other beginning to philosophy than this."
(Socrates in Plato's Theaetetus, 155d)

[In order to come to know the truth, we have to go beyond ourselves and our biases--we have to be in love with reality as it truly is, and conform ourselves to it, rather than living in fantasy.]

Life is something we experience before we come to understand it--the only place we can begin to understand our experience of life is in that experience itself.

Wonder is a feeling caused by coming to newly understand something beautiful. Wonder is a subset of appreciation, which is of beautiful things generally. Because it involves novelty, it is associated with rare or exceptional phenomena.

So if life experience in general is not philosophy, but rather, philosophy is a special sort of coming to understand life experience, then it makes sense that wonder will be the first feeling of this new understanding.

But beauty especially arouses this wonder within us, which shows us the special place of beauty in the pursuit of truth and the good life. Beauty turns our perception from its scattered state among the experience of life in all its variation, and focuses it on the beautiful object.

Beauty is that which is intrinsically pleasant to behold. Because its value is intrinsic, and not based on function, it cannot be used up. Beauty touches the infinite. Appreciation which proportionately cannot be used up is love. Love, too, touches the infinite.

Love allows us to pursue the truth diligently and without obstructions from our own biases. Love for the object as well as a general love for people allows us to overcome pride and inattention, which could otherwise prevent cooperative learning. Love lets us stretch beyond ourselves, to the external reality which is not the self, where the truth is.

And once we get to truth as it is in truth, we can use it for good, to create, sustain, and enjoy life. And that is the ultimate goal--a full, happy, connected life.

Beauty inspires Love; Love seeks Truth; Truth creates Good.

Love is the whole: 
Beauty is the initiative, Truth is the method, and Good is the result.

For a good link on this, read about the uselessness of humans over at BadCatholic's blog!

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