Wilfred M. McClay & Donald A. Yerxa | Big Questions Online
One of Plato’s greatest dialogues describes Socrates’ encounter with the young prodigy Theaetetus, who would become one of the most influential mathematicians of the ancient world. As Plato recounts the story, Theaetetus became so captivated by Socrates’ dialectical puzzles that he confessed himself “dizzy” with “wondering” whether these mysteries and puzzles could ever be unraveled. To which Socrates responded with undisguised joy: “This sense of wonder is the mark of the philosopher. Philosophy indeed has no other origin.”
Aristotle readily agreed; it was “wonder” that led the first philosophers to engage in their characteristic activity. And Thomas Aquinas, commenting on Aristotle, explained that philosophers “were moved to philosophize as a result of wonder” and that they are “concerned with wonders.”
In our own day, the connection between the sense of wonder and the drive to know has been powerfully challenged . . .