Born of Wonder and the Marvelous

June 16, 2014

This driving desire for the sublime also awakens in us a sense of wonder. Aristotle claims that wonder is the beginning of philosophy.

St. Thomas Aquinas

Saint Thomas teaches that wonder is the longing for knowledge, which comes when we first contemplate this order and then seek after its first cause, which is either unknown to us or surpasses our faculty of understanding.* A child, for example, contemplating the stars in the vast firmament, experiences wonder as to the cause of this great marvel. This unsatisfied desire for knowledge of the highest cause, far from frustrating us, awakens in us a joyful hope of obtaining that knowledge for which we so long. Josef Pieper notes that Saint Thomas held that “the first wonder one feels forms the first step on the path that leads to the beatific vision.”**



* See Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I-II, q. 32, a. 8.

** Josef Pieper, Leisure: The Basis of Culture, trans. Gerald Malsbary (South Bend, Ind.: St. Augustine Press, 1998), 103.



John Horvat, Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society—Where We’ve Been, How We Got Here, and Where We Need to Go (York, Penn.: York Press, 2013), 318.



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