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Balanced Wonder: A Philosophical Inquiry into the Role of Wonder in Human Flourishing

PEDERSEN, JAN,BJERGGAARD,WAKATSUKI (2015) Balanced Wonder: A Philosophical Inquiry into the Role of Wonder in Human Flourishing. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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The phenomenon of wonder has fascinated scholars for centuries, yet today the subject is understudied and not rooted in any specific academic discipline. Attempts at building a preliminary account of wonder reveals that the experience of wonder is characterised by seven properties: wonder (1) is sudden, extraordinary and personal; (2) intensifies the cognitive focus; (3) intensifies the use of imagination; (4) instigates awareness of ignorance; (5) causes temporary displacement; (6) makes the world newly present; and (7) brings emotional upheaval. Furthermore, wonder can be distinguished from other similar altered states, including awe, horror, the sublime, curiosity, amazement, admiration and astonishment.
Human flourishing is a concept in ethics that has enjoyed a revival since Elizabeth Anscombe’s 1958 article ‘Modern Moral Philosophy’. Through the work of Neo-Aristotelian philosophers Douglas Rasmussen, Alasdair McIntyre and Martha Nussbaum who have contributed to the field a working model of human flourishing attentive to human nature was established.
As a result of in-depth examination of the contribution of both emotion and imagination in the experience of wonder through a Neo-Aristotelian lens it becomes evident that wonder may contribute to human flourishing via a number of effects, including (but not restricted to) widening of perception, extension of moral scope or sensitivity and prompting deep wonder, a wondrous afterglow, openness, humility, an imaginative attitude, reverence and gratitude. Importantly, for wonder to act as a strong contributor to human flourishing one needs to wonder at the right (or appropriate) thing, in the right amount, in the right time, in the right way and for the right purpose. Cultivating a balanced sense of wonder is thus by no means an easy task but having a critical attitude towards one’s wonderment would aid one to wonder in a virtuous way.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Wonder; Emotion; Imagination; Human Flourishing; Medical Humanities; Philosophy;
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Medicine and Health, School of
Thesis Date:2015
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:18 Feb 2016 11:28

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