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In this essay Teri Merrick argues that Christian philosophers are uniquely called to cultivate a disposition of wonder in their students, despite its strong family resemblance to the medieval vice of curiosity (curiositas). The argument hinges on showing that wonder is essential tothe practice of authentic Christian hospitality. Wonder is claimed to be the emotional marker designating the potentially subversive and existentially risky nature of this practice. She ends by exploring how philosophy instructors can promote a properly pious sense of wonder towards creatures and the ongoing creational work of God without simultaneously encouraging a vicious curiosity. Ms. Merrick is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Azusa Pacific University.


Carolyn Walker Bynum ends her 1997 Presidential Address to the American Historical Association with the following exhortation:

[S]urely our job as teachers is to puzzle, confuse, and amaze. We must rear a new generation of students who will gaze in wonder at texts and artifacts, quick to puzzle over a translation, slow to project or to appropriate, quick to assume there is a significance, slow to generalize about it. Not only as scholars, then, but as teachers, we must astonish and be astonished.1

Bynum considers it the “special characteristic” and responsibility of historians to teach so as to induce a medieval sense of wonder (admiratio) in their students, a wonder that “yearns toward an understanding, a significance, that is always just a little beyond our theories and our fears.”2

Not to initiate a pedagogical turf war with my colleagues in the history department, but surely if it is anyone’s job to evoke wonder from their students, this task falls to me, a philosophy instructor. Recall Plato’s Theaetetus where Socrates declares famously that “wonder is the feeling of a philosopher, and philosophy begins in wonder.”3 For Aristotle too, wonder motivates philosophical inquiry. However, as puzzlement gives way to causal understanding, wonder should subside.4 By contrast, twentieth-century British philosopher and mathematician Alfred North Whitehead insists that when philosophy is done at its best, “wonder remains.”5 Contemporary moral philosophers, theologians and psychologists are also paying increased attention to the significant role of wonder in developing the capacities for love and compassion and for fostering a broadly conceived religious orientation to the world around us.6 The question posed in this paper is whether it really is the responsibility of philosophy faculty, especially those teaching in confessional Christian institutions such as mine, to promote a sense of wonder in their students and, if so, how this can best be accomplished.

Since I intend to argue that Christian philosophers do have a special obligation to encourage a disposition towards wonder, I owe my reader an initial account of what I take a wonder-filled response to be.7 The description and defense of wonder developed throughout this paper leans heavily on early medieval and contemporary Cartesian accounts. As noted above, Bynum characterizes medieval “wonder” as the propensity to linger with and over that which lies beyond our fear and current conceptual grasp. She explains further that medieval theorists understood wonder as a response to singularity and particularity, a response stimulating “the search for ‘significance,’” and where the search is not necessarily complete just because one has arrived at a causal explanation.8 Bynum stresses that the wonder-filled yearning described here should not be confused with a desire to own or appropriate these strange particulars; rather, “wonder” denotes a “kind of non-appropriative, perspectival, and intensely cognitive response.”9

While medieval theorists maintained that one cannot wonder at entities whose significance is understood entirely, it was Rene Descartes who took value indeterminacy to be distinctive of wonder’s formal object:10

When our first encounter with some object surprises us and we find it novel, or very differentfrom what we formerly knew or from what we supposed it ought to be, this causes us towonder and to be astonished at it. Since this may happen before we know whether or not the object is beneficial to us, I regard wonder as the first of all the passions.11

Because I will defend wonder as both a pious and indiscriminant welcoming of the unexpected, it is important to retain the Cartesian notion of wonder as a response to an object prior to or independent of any definitive judgment as to its utility, value or worth. In short, the Latin admiratio may be a misleading designator for the emotional type that I hope to circumscribe and promote, for, on my account, to wonder at the strange and the stranger does not require ascribing to them any admirable qualities.

My thesis that philosophers teaching in Christian institutions are called to cultivate a disposition towards wonder turns on whether this disposition can be seen as a constitutive element of a virtuous Christian character. In their introduction to The Schooled Heart, Douglas V. Henry and Michael D. Beaty argue that Christian academic institutions are uniquely equipped to recapture the vision of a liberal arts education focused on graduating students possessing intellectual and moral virtues and not merely marketable, specialized skills. Their argument rests on the premise that such institutions are embedded already in a well-defined moral tradition and that this is the most conducive environment for a coherent, sufficiently robust moral education.12 Robert C. Roberts, a contributor to their volume and well known for his work on the essential role of the emotions in character formation, goes on to maintain that the precise nature of a virtue will depend on the tradition of which it is a part:

No doubt countless variants and syncretisms of virtue are possible, and many of these variants will bear family resemblances that may explain why a single virtue name covers the different variants. Thus Stoic courage, Aristotelian courage, and Christian courage are allcalled courage, but they involve different emotional patterns, connect differently to other virtues, and differ in their supporting metaphysics.13

To show that Christian philosophers bear a unique responsibility to evoke wonder from their students, I must show that wonder is an essential element in the emotional pattern of a distinctly Christian virtue; the virtue I have in mind is hospitality. I will argue that wonder is indicative of the subversive aspect of Christian hospitality, that aspect serving to differentiate it from varieties demanding less risk on the part of the practitioner and posing less threat to the prevailing social order.

Roberts also claims that anthropologists may exaggerate the cultural and historical variability of emotions because they fail to distinguish adequately an emotion as a fairly stable and definable type of response from context dependent evaluations of that response.14 In the next section, I present a synopsis of wonder’s history from the onset of the High Middle Ages. I hope to show that despite differing evaluations of wonder as the appropriate response to the ever-surprising particulars populating the cosmos, the term “wonder” still may be used to designate a somewhat invariable and distinct emotional type. I begin by noting a significant shift in the history of Western Christian institutions as to whether wonder ought to be considered the aim of a suitably pious education, locating this shift in a move from an Augustinian to Aristotelian theology of nature. Recall Roberts’ claim thata fine-grained analysis of Christian virtue should take into account not only differing emotional patterns, but also differences in the underlying metaphysics. The brief history of medieval wonder highlights the fact that within the Christian tradition itself there have been varying conceptions of what constitutes the ideal expression of Christian hospitality, variants due in part to contextual changes affecting evaluations of the correlative emotional response and presumed theological cosmology. The section ends with my argument that recovering the practice of authentic Christian hospitality goes hand in hand with esteeming wonder as a properly pious response to the creatures we encounter.

I then turn to examining a few wonder-filled moments occurring within my five years of teaching multiple sections of Introduction to Philosophy with an eye toward developing course material and an environment targeted at instilling wonder and its attendant virtue. Finally, I ask whether we can stir wonder in the hearts and minds of students without simultaneously encouraging the vice of curiosity said to lie in its wake. In charting the shifting semantic field within which wonder-talk was positioned throughout the Middle Ages, medieval historians point out that it was not until the seventeenth century that “wonder” and “curiosity” became aligned closely. Both Augustine and Aquinas made a distinction between wonder (admiratio) and curiosity (curiositas), and both conceived the latter as a vicious quest for knowledge. Here I present a more thorough account of the viciousness that Augustine and Aquinas denote by curiositas, claiming that so long as wonder remains bound to the practice of Christian hospitality it can retain its virtuous character.

Whose Wonder? Which Hospitality?

In their well-documented Wonder and the Order of Nature, Lorraine Daston and Katherine Park recount the shifting paradigms of natural philosophy throughout the medieval period. They show that early medieval natural philosophers operated within an Augustinian paradigm stressing the contingency of natural phenomena, viewing it all as “immediately and miraculously dependent on God.”15 Though the Augustinian natural philosopher understood nature as divided into regularly occurring kinds, this was not the privileged locus for illuminating God’s creational activity. Rather, one should attend to nature’s irregularities and variations on a theme, since this better illustrates God’s omnipotence and improvisational artistry. For Augustine, irregularities are “marvels” intended to “reveal what God can do.”16 Thus, he can welcome “so-called Hermaphrodites” easily as rare individuals contributing to the overall beauty of the human family.17

Since wonder was, and still is, identified as the emotional response promptedby encountering the novel, the rare, or the variable, early medieval educators influenced by an Augustinian theology of nature sought to induce wonder in those they served. A sustained sense of wonder was considered indicative of a student’s pious appreciation of the sovereignty, immediacy, and necessity of God’s relationship to each created entity. One might ask how anyone could manifest a sustained sense of wonder, given that wonder has been described as a reaction to the surprising and unexpected.18 Here it helps to distinguish wonder as an occasional and immediate emotional reaction from wonder as the disposition to construe objects or states of affairs in a certain manner, just as one distinguishes the occasional angry outburst from anger as a disposition of someone given to such outbursts and prone to construe entities as having properties likely to provoke such a response. Thus, to say that students manifest a sustained sense of Augustinian wonder would be to say that they are inclined to welcome whatever comes their way, particularly those entities found to be initially unfamiliar, disordered, or strange, as opportunities to be delightfully surprised by what God intends to reveal.

By the thirteenth century, however, pedagogical goals changed. Natural philosophers rejected the Augustinian preoccupation with wondrous particulars in favor of an Aristotelian quest for scientia, complete and certain knowledge. For these philosophers, the ideal science was a “body of universal and necessary truths…known with absolute certainty.”19 The problem was how to approximate this ideal when the subject matter is as full of particularity, irregularity, and contingency as nature appears to be. The solution was to see natural philosophy’s aim as deducing causal explanations about naturally recurring and familiar types of phenomena. A suitably rigorous, knowledge-producing investigation of nature thus marginalizes and even ignores its most novel, particular, and rarely occurring features intentionally.

Daston and Park cite Aquinas’ Summa as best articulating the theology of nature that emerged during this period:

The order imposed on things by God is based on what usually occurs, in most cases, in things but not on what is always so. In fact, many natural causes produce their effects in the same way, frequently but not always. Sometimes, indeed, though rarely, an event occurs in a different way, either due to a defect in the power of an agent, or to the unsuitable condition of the matter, or to an agent with greater strength—as when nature gives rise to a sixth finger on a man.20

Whereas the Augustinian natural philosopher is inclined to delight in “so-called Hermaphrodites” as created specially by God, the Aristotelian scholastic philosopher will likely view them as deviants in God’s intended order.21 Given the epistemic and methodological norms of Scholastic philosophy, it is not surprising that wonder was no longer a prized religious emotion. Instead, it was associated with ignorance of causal explanations and, if persistent, willful intellectual sloth.

Medieval historians, early modern and contemporary philosophers, social and cognitive psychologists all identify wonder as a reaction to something new or surprising, something challenging the adequacy of our given conceptual framework. Bynum describes wonder as a response to “what we cannot in any sense incorporate, or consume, or encompass in our mental categories.”22 Similarly, Daston and Park attest to wonder ’s category-shattering potential: “To register wonder was to register a breached boundary, a classification subverted.”23 Note too that wonder, as described here, must be distinguished from both a paralyzing astonishment and a bowed awe, since it motivates us to approach these conceptually elusive particulars.24 So though medieval Christian clerics differed on whether wonder ought to be encouraged or expunged, they agreed on the stimuli and character of a wonder-filled response.

This consensus extends to early modern and contemporary accounts of wonder. We saw Descartes identify wonder as “the first of all passions” precisely because it is the reaction to encountering a novel and hither to unknown entity whose relative importance for our own lives is yet to be determined.25 Contemporary French philosopher and linguist Luce Irigaray builds on Descartes’ account to highlight the ethical import of wonder. For Irigaray, wonder is the disposition to acknowledge the inexhaustible richness of another: “This other, male or female, should surprise us again and again, appear to us as new, very different from what we knew or what we thought he or she should be.”26  Similar to Bynum’s medieval wonder, Irigaray’s Cartesian wonder is both cognitive and non-appropriative, encouraging us to discover the other ’s significance, while discouraging us from construing them simply as an entity satisfying some pre-determined end or need:

Wonder goes beyond that which is and is not suitable for us. The other never suits us simply. We would in some way have reduced the other to ourselves if he or she suited us completely…. Attracting me toward, wonder keeps me from assimilating directly to myself.27

Martha Nussbaum also describes wonder as the delightful approach towards the strange and the stranger prior to determining their effect on furthering our projects or general well-being. She, too, contrasts wonder from awe: “Wonder is outward-moving, exuberant, whereas awe is linked with bending, or making oneself small. In wonder I want to leap or run, in awe to kneel.”28

In summary, I take wonder to be a predominantly delightful, not fearful or awe-inspiring, awareness that one is presented with an ever-surprising and unique particular, an awareness that urges us forward with a “What or who is that?” on our lips. It prompts us to approach the unknown or unknowable other, despite the inherent existential risk involved in this approach. To manifest a disposition towards Augustinian Christian wonder is to construe creatures as uniquely designed by God and possessing a richness that eludes their being fully captured in our current conceptual hierarchies or schemes. By drawing us toward whatever and whoever strikes as initially unfamiliar, confusing or boundary-breaching, towards those requiring us to step beyond our theories or fears, wonder initiates a process whereby we may come to appreciate fully their value and significance for our own lives.

Now let us see why the person disposed towards wonder is best suited to practice genuine Christian hospitality. The call to recover the tradition of moral education has coincided with the call to recover the practice of Christian hospitality. Elizabeth Newman argues that Christian institutions cannot fulfill their mandate of moral education unless they can “incorporate hospitality in the intellectual life” of their students.29 And just as wonder has been a neglected Christian emotion, so too hospitality has failed to maintain its status as a well practiced, distinctly Christian virtue. Of course, there is no disputing the fact that providing shelter and other resources to the stranger was a morally obligatory practice within the ancient Jewish and Islamic traditions. Moreover, the New Testament promotes the practice of hospitality consistently, a practice now taking on a decidedly christological cast. To welcome the stranger is to welcome Christ.30 Subsequently, Augustine speaks of “the excellent virtue of hospitality” and assumes the devout practice it regularly.31 But though the virtue of hospitality has been extolled by authoritative voices throughout the history of the Church, the rhetoric did not necessarily result in practice. To understand why is to understand the tight link between teaching students to prize wonder as a vital Christian emotion and encouraging them to practice authentic Christian hospitality.

Christian ethicist Christine D. Pohl contrasts the common notion of hospitality as a “tame” and “pleasant” adherence to social norms with the “subversive, countercultural dimension” marking Christian hospitality:

“Hospitality is resistance,” as one person from the Catholic Worker has observed. Especially when the larger society disregards or dishonors certain persons, small acts of respect and welcome are potent far beyond themselves. They point to a different system of valuing and an alternate model of relationships.32

This subversive aspect of Christian hospitality is confirmed in the gospel narratives as well.

Jesus’ example and teachings testify to the threat posed to deeply entrenched and strongly policed social structures when one decides to welcome all those existing in its margins and crossbars. Thus, would-be Jesus followers were warned against using social status or moral character as a litmus test in deciding when to extend hospitality. The following exhortation from John Chrysostom, fourth-century bishop of Constantinople, typifies this recurrent homiletic theme.

Besides [Abraham’s] generosity and ready mind we especially admire him on the grounds that when he had no knowledge of who his guests were, yet he so acted. Don’t be curious then, either, since for Christ you receive him…For if this person is a murderer, if a robber, or what not, does he therefore seem to you not to deserve a loaf or a few coins? And yet your Master causes even the sun to rise upon him!33

The exemplars of Christian hospitality are those who approach and welcome strangers without prior knowledge of their worth or social standing and without any assurance that they mean no harm. Ideal practitioners must be willing to dismantle and reconfigure socio-political and ethical frameworks to welcome these guests. Thus, the mismatch between rhetoric and actual practice can be explained by the existential investment of Christian institutions or individuals in these frameworks and their unwillingness to risk that investment.34 Yet, as I have argued, those disposed towards Augustinian wonder will be in a much better position to take this risk.

Recall that Irigaray and Nussbaum focused on wonder’s capacity to prompt encounters where finite, lower-case others are approached with an open-armed and expectant “Who art thou?”35 Self-identifying Christian scholars will need to embed these encounters in the context of approaching the ever wondrous Christ. According to Newman, Christian academic institutions are in danger of losing their distinctive religious identities, a danger best avoided by grounding their educational mandate on the practice of Christian hospitality.36 Since “hospitality delights in and is even defined as the welcoming of the other as gift,” students must learn to see the inherent giftedness in all creation.37 Faithful practitioners, driven by “the conviction that all humans are made in the image of God,” will soon see that “the other is Christ.”38 But to see Christ in the gift of finite existences, practitioners must also be prepared to welcome “the unexpected or new.”39

While Newman does not expound upon the emotional pattern distinctive of Christian hospitality, it should now be clear why wonder ought to be identified as the key element within that pattern. What distinguishes Christian hospitality from its “tame” and socially benign cousins is its indiscriminate nature and transformative power. Heeding the call to welcome the other as gift or as identified with Christ does not involve seeing beyond or through the strangeness of the other in hopes of discerning some admirable qualities that can then motivate our attraction.40 Rather, authentic Christian hospitality demands that we engage in the risky business of extending welcome even when and perhaps because this may be the first step in revealing an entirely new system for determining value and structuring our relationships. So though Newman may not point to wonder explicitly as a characteristic response of welcoming finite and divine others as gift, she ends upciting Jewish theologian Michael Wyschogrod who does:

The deepest sign of the presence of God, the fundamental reason for the wonder that is evoked by all contact with the spirit, is the occurrence of the unexpected. Salvation comes from unexpected quarters, at unexpected times, and through unexpected agents.41

Wyschogrod reminds us that refusing to countenance the unexpected may well foreclose the possibility of a novel and redemptive encounter with God.

Some How-tos on Regulating Wonder

Since Newman’s article does not intend to explore fully the role of wonder in facilitating the practice of Christian hospitality, Christian philosophers should not expect it to provide them with a map detailing how to evoke wonder in their students and how to navigate the subversive, category-shattering winds bound to ensue. Without this map, however, we cannot expect to address the historical ambivalence towards wonder and the practice of hospitality in western Christian institutions. Cognitive and social psychologists define “emotion regulation” as “the processes by which individuals influence the emotions they have, the intensity of these emotions, and how these emotions are expressed.”42 These run the gamut from unconscious processes to intentionally practiced techniques. Some may be skeptical about the efficacy of intentional techniques for emotion regulation, given their conception of emotions as psycho-physiological reactions over which subjects exert little or no control. But once we accept the position of Henry and Beaty, that we are called to the task of moral formation, and follow Roberts in seeing emotional dispositions as intrinsically related to intellectual and moral agency, we are forced to take seriously the possibility of developing intentionally guided strategies affecting the intensity and expression of students’ emotions. My goal here is to identify a few navigational strategies for regulating wonder that are especially appropriate to an introductory philosophy course and helping students and instructors on their way to becoming faithful practitioners of Christian hospitality.

Kelly Bulkeley, author of The Wondering Brain: Thinking About Religion Withand Beyond Cognitive Neuroscience, supplies us with a rough sketch of our journey. Wonder involves two stages: First, there is “a sudden decentering of the self when faced with something novel and unexpectedly powerful.” Second, there must be “an ultimate recentering of the self in response to new knowledge and understanding.”43 Research on the emotion of interest underscores the importance of the second stage. Social psychologist Paul Silvia places interest in “the family of ‘epistemology-based emotions’” because of its association with curiosity, heightened concentration, and approach-oriented action.44 Interest is correlated consistently with a subject’s appraisal that a phenomenon is “new,” “surprising,” “mysterious” or“obscure.” Clearly, the emotional type denoted by the term “interest” bears a strong family resemblance to the medieval and Cartesian notions of wonder described above. Silvia’s experimental data also confirms Descartes’, Irigaray’s and Nussbaum’s claims that novelty and strangeness fix our attention independently of any assessment as to the benefit or attractiveness of the object.45 Silvia found, however, that a sustained attentive interest in an unexpected and initially disturbing event is correlated strongly with the subject’s appraisal that he or she can make sense of it eventually.46 In other words, unless we can inspire students with the hope of arriving at a more spacious place, where God delights to lead them and there is room enough to house all the de-centering oddities that we intend to introduce, we cannot expect them to sustain their attention long enough to see what gifts these strangers may bear.47

Introductory philosophy courses provide the perfect vehicle for the first stage of wonder’s journey.48 Towards the end of the course, I ask students to state their greatest objection to philosophy. “No answers!” is often their reply. This response does not surprise me, since this is what most people find frustrating about philosophy. Then I have them read an excerpt from Bertrand Russell’s The Problems of Philosophy, where he defends philosophical inquiry despite the fact that often it fails to provide definitive answers to life’s most profound questions. Russell argues that the value of philosophy resides in its capacity to render “the most everyday things” wondrously unfamiliar.49 Though he may not have known it, Russell is expressing a pedagogical goal previously pursued by a thirteenth-century Dominican Friar, Vincent of Beauvais. For Vincent, obeying Augustine’s call to promote a pious appreciation of God’s world meant presenting that world as “a spectacle of wonders, engineered for human pleasure and delight.”50 By compiling extensive encyclopedias depicting nature’s diverse and rarely seen inhabitants, Vincent intended to help the laity fulfill their obligation “to wonder at creation and, by extension, at its Creator.”51 This same pious wonder ought to be expressed towards all creatures, even the most common. Vincent thus tried to counter our tendency to become less and less moved in the face of the familiar by writing “rhapsodic descriptions” of everyday things.52

I have found that the best technique for exciting a wondrous attentiveness to the most common of creatures—leaves, for example—is by introducing students to the epistemological conundrums raised by Plato and Descartes. The effectiveness of this technique was driven home to me during my first year of teaching. Sitting in the back row, in a class of about thirty-five students, was a young woman, call her Sharon, who rarely participated in class discussions and consistently turned in C-level work. Although Sharon was usually attentive, I had decided that she was probably not getting much out of the course. In this midsize, midwest Christian college, all students were required to take an introductory course where Plato’s Republic was the primary text. As a new instructor, I had two main concerns about the Republic: 1) How can I focus on this text while introducing students such as Sharon to a range of voices, including marginalized voices, constituting the often cacophonous conversation of philosophy? and 2) How can I possibly motivate the uninitiated to care about such abstract weird things as Plato’s Forms? After five years of teaching intro courses where I now voluntarily assign the Republic as the main text, I have answers to these questions.

First, I have come to see the truth in Whitehead’s claim that the “safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists in a series of footnotes to Plato.”53 For better or worse, the Republic lays out not only all of the questions that have come to delineate the main sub-fields of Anglo-European philosophy, but also what is considered pertinent in addressing those questions. Postmodern philosophers describe a culturally defining text like the Republic as a narrative web stretching across the centuries, a web in the sense that it both envelopes and is reconfigured by those whom it catches. Given European expansionism, the web of the Republic contians a surprising number of differing voices. Hospitality as practiced in the philosophy classroom demands that we treat the stranger as a full-fledged interlocutor This in turn demands that we become skilled at conceptually unraveling and reconfiguring the rich philosophical dialective that we have inherited. My students and I practice these skills by teasing out those voices on the margins of Plato’s web and weaving in those left out entirely. 54

Secondly and to my surprise, I have found it easier to sustain a student’s interest in the perplexities posed by Plato’s metaphysical Forms than by his questions about the nature of true righteousness. For instance, Sharon was the first in a longline of students who experienced a cognitive-decentering of the self in a world with which they were hither to most familiar. The simplest way to get students to understand why Plato feels the need to posit the abstract, changeless and intangible things called Forms is to appeal to their intuition—hopefully a sufficient majority still have this intuition—that true claims ought to be timelessly true. The puzzle then is how one can assert such truths about created things like leaves, which appear to be always in flux. To induce this puzzlement in the students, I hold up two leaves and ask “What are these and how many are there?” “Two leaves” they all say, thrilled to have a question that seems to have a definite answer. I then crumble them up. Most students see immediately that the proposition “There are two leaves” has suddenly changed its truth-value; what was true has become false. They are now suitably prepared to enter Plato’s wonderland of non-temporal, non-sensory, but inherently knowable Forms.

The foregoing exercise or something quite like it is common practice in secular and faith-based philosophy courses, so what does it have to do with intensifying wonder for the purpose of cultivating Christian hospitality? Late in the afternoon, after having taught this lesson in the morning, I was walking across campus and ran into Sharon. She was walking slowly and appeared to be pondering the trees. It was late October in Indiana so leaves were at a premium. When we spoke, Sharon told me that she had been thinking about class and how strange it was to realize that a leaf was such a difficult thing to really understand. In The Vice of Curiosity, Augustinian scholar Paul J. Griffiths distinguishes two epistemic stances toward the world, one where the potentially knowing subject is related to the world through the virtue of studiositas (studiousness), the other by means of curiositas (curiosity):55

The advocate of studiousness occupies a world of gift and participation to which the proper response is one of gratitude and delight; the advocate of curiosity occupies a world of ownership and mastery to which the proper response is the gesture of control.56

To see oneself as inhabiting a world of contingently created gifts is first and foremost to see all things, persons and leaves, as that which cannot be cognitively appropriated or “sequestered” for one’s own use.57 Instead, it is to see them as “instances of givenness” and tremendously richer than “what is or can be apprehended by a knower on any occasion of their appearing.”58 Sharon was thus on her way to a newfound wondrous delight in the gifted appearance of a strange Indiana leaf.

At first glance, navigating students through the first and second stages of wonder’s journey relative to sensibly-given particulars is not that difficult. Students are not usually thrown into an existential or epistemic crisis merely by facing the fact that their everyday experience of non-human, naturally occurring entities may not disclose everything there is to know about them and that what is disclosed may radically surprise them.59 But to say that students rarely experience any serious existential threat while puzzling over their epistemic grasp of leaves is certainly not to say that leading them through all of the issues raised by Plato’s and Descartes’ quest for knowledge is entirely risk-free.

For students to see why anyone, namely Descartes, might think it wise to sit down and systematically try to destroy all confidence in the veracity of their beliefs, I describe the context within which Descartes wrote the Meditations of First Philosophy. First I present them with a picture of medieval geocentric cosmology, illustrating how well supported it is by our ordinary sensory experience of the world, explaining that this model of the cosmos was endorsed by all of the well-recognized authoritative scientific and cosmological texts for the past 2,000 years, and showing its compatibility with orthodox Christian theology.60 Then I explain that within the span of just three years, from 1610 to 1613, Galileo had turned his newly refined telescope on the Sun, the Moon and the planets, thereby yielding observable data that refuted this model. They hear the well-known tale of Galileo’s condemnation by the Western Church, that he became an increasingly vocal proponent of Copernicus’ heliocentric theory until it was officially condemned as heresy and that, in 1633, he was forced to recant his prior endorsement of the theory and subjected to house arrest for the remainder of his life. They hear the less-known tale of Descartes’ response to these events, that he was just preparing to publish his own cosmological treatise assuming the truth of Copernicanism, but suppressed this work upon hearing of Galileo’s arrest. They learn that Descartes’ Meditations, published in 1647, in part is intended to usher in acceptance of the new cosmic model by weaning readers off their dependence on sensory experiences and authoritative Aristotelian concepts that reinforced a geocentric perspective.

By contextualizing the Meditations, my aim is not to endorse the Cartesian method of an intentionally skeptical, introspective, and solo journey towards in-dubitable truth, but merely to help students appreciate the kind of epistemic crisis that precipitated this move. Here again, I have been surprised by the number of students who self-identify as having some familiarity with a Descartes-like epistemic crisis. Surely eighteen- and nineteen-year-olds are too young for this sort of thing, or so I thought. Sometimes these crises are due to world-shattering experiences of parental or pastoral failing and sometimes they are due to the unsettling questions raised in a first-ever course in Church History, Biblical Studies or Philosophy. Regardless of the cause and whether their crisis really is on a par with the one signaling the shift from Scholastic to Modern methods of scientific inquiry, the students’ perceived sense of having lost their bearings for truth discernment is real. And if, as I have argued, Christian philosophers are tasked with the job of leading students through the two-stage experience of wonder, we must develop strategies for sustaining hope as students reorient themselves. Otherwise, we may inadvertently promote the very intellectual sloth or skepticism that made the Scholastics right-fully skittish about encouraging a wondrous disposition.

To date, I have no well-tested techniques for inducing this kind of hope in all first-year philosophy students and thus am keenly aware of Plato’s warning about those under thirty dabbling in the dialectical arts. In the Republic, Plato has Socrates explain why a genuine, virtue-instilling philosophical training must begin at thirty and last a full five years:

We hold from childhood certain convictions about just and fine things; we’re brought up with them as with our parents, we obey and honor them…And then a questioner comes along and asks someone of this sort, “What is fine?” And, when he answers what he has heard from the traditional lawgiver, the argument refutes him, and by refuting him often and in many places shakes him from his convictions, and makes him believe that the fine is no more fine than shameful and the same with the just, the good, and the things he honored most….Then when he no longer honors and obeys those convictions and can’t discover the true ones, will he be likely to adopt any other way of life than that which flatters him?61

The clearly intended irony in this passage is that Plato presents himself as a long-standing disciple of Socrates and was only around twenty-five when his teacher was tried and executed for impiety. Moreover, Plato holds previously respected family members and lawgivers culpable for this travesty.62 Still, the type of authentic philosophical inquiry that I have been urging is subversive precisely in the sense that students often will feel alienated from time-honored sources of moral and religious conviction. So, in order to stimulate further thought on retaining this type of inquiry as a proper part of Christian higher education without turning students into the irreverent, lawless cultural relativists envisioned by Plato, let me recount two final student exchanges.

Sammy is a first-year freshman and pastor’s daughter. Throughout the semester, she routinely seeks me out after class to express her increasing frustration with her parents. She reports that they refuse to consider carefully the questions being raised in her classes, specifically her biblical studies, theology, and philosophy classes. She is also clearly irritated by their manifest concern over her ethico-religious well-being. What do I do in these situations? I usually engage in a sort of parental apologetics, explaining that though I fully endorse the kind of inquiry practiced in our classroom, I am also the mother of four adult sons who expresses deep concern about their truth-seeking journey, especially when I think that they are headed off-course. I encourage her to view this parental concern as an expression of love and their ongoing interest in seeing her flourish as a disciple of Christ. But this response is weak, and I see too many students graduating without adequate practice in reintroducing their wondrously reoriented selves back into the particular ethico-religious communities from which they came. Plato responded to this problem by treating a transformative re-engagement of students with their community as a proper part of a complete philosophical education. Following his lead, Christian philosophers might consider how service-learning strategies can be adopted in their courses without compromising the academic rigor and discipline specific goals of these courses.63

Now consider a second, more successful completion of the two-stage wondrous experience. I am introducing students to what is known as David Hume’s problem of induction. Eighteenth-century Scottish philosopher, Hume, argued that almost all beliefs concerning the natural world, most notably the beliefs deriving from the practice of experimental science, lacked any sort of rationally justified foundation. He pointed out that any belief about the future course of natural phenomena based on past observations of similar phenomena rests on an assumption that nature will continue to operate somewhat similarly to how it has in the past. Or, as Hume himself puts it, “all inferences from experience suppose, as their foundation, that the future will resemble the past.”64 He then claims that there is no non-circular piece of reasoning that would justify this foundational belief.

To introduce Hume’s problem adequately, one first needs to present what he takes to be a crucial distinction among all propositional beliefs. For introductory courses, I characterize the distinction as follows. Relations of ideas are propositions whose truth can be determined without having to observe anything that actually exists. These propositions are true (or false) simply by virtue of the meaning of their constitutive terms. Consider the example, “All bachelors are unmarried males.” We can be absolutely certain of the truth of this proposition, but this certainty and truth is somewhat trivial, given that it depends on mere definitions, rather than any actually existing state of affairs. For Hume, mathematical propositions fall into this category.65 By contrast, matters of fact are propositions whose truth does depend on what exists in the universe, and this truth can only be known by experiencing the relevant features of that universe. Hume places all inductive generalizations, such as, “All bachelors are unhappy males” or “The sun will rise tomorrow,” into this category. While matters of fact are said to possess more cognitive significance than relations of ideas, we can never be absolutely certain of them. Hume maintains that there is always a chance, small though it may be, that the laws of Newtonian mechanics may turn out to be false.66

After a thorough going over of Hume’s taxonomy of propositions, a student raised his hand and asked where the proposition “Jesus is coming back” would fit into this scheme. To see how well they had all grasped Hume’s distinction, I threw the question back to the entire class: “Well, where should we put it? Is it a definitional kind of truth about which we are all absolutely certain? Or is it a matter of fact whose truth depends on empirical observations or reports of these observations and thus might possibly be false?” Silence. Dead silence. “Come on guys,” I said, “is it logically possible for this claim to be false?” Again, silence and furtive looks at their classmates. Finally, the student who posed the question responded: “I know what I should say, but I don’t want to.”

Suddenly, it dawned on me that for them to give the “right” answer may have felt like a betrayal similar to the way that I might feel if someone forced me to admit that the claim “Teri will remain married to Jeff until death do they part” might possibly be false. Of course, it might be false when viewed through the lens of Hume’s classificatory scheme, but to say so strikes me and would surely strike my husband as betraying an unspoken promise to remain hopeful that we can fulfill our wedding vows, God willing. In fact, what the students had stumbled upon was the inadequacy of Hume’s taxonomy, and J. L. Austin’s subsequent insight that claims appearing to be empirical matters of fact may well be performative utterances, expressing one’s intended fidelity to a spouse, a god, or an entire religious tradition. Rather than launching into a lecture on Austin’s philosophy of language, I suggested simply that the claim “Jesus will come back” may not be functioning for them as a proposition in Hume’s sense at all, but rather as affirming their trust in the creedal promises and cloud of witnesses that are part of their Christian heritage. If that was the case, perhaps it felt as if I was asking them to disavow that trust. Their wide-eyed smiles and vigorous head nodding convinced me that I had diagnosed their discomfort rightly and that they now had incorporated a new understanding of where they stood relative to the Body of Christ. This was a truly wondrous teaching moment for all of us, but how did it happen? Answering this question requires a more careful consideration of wonder in relation to curiosity.

Pious Wonder or Vicious Curiosity?

I have argued that Christian philosophers are uniquely called to cultivate a disposition to wonder in their students. This call derives from two sources: the longstanding association of wonder with genuine philosophic thought beginning with Plato and the recognition of wonder as an essential emotional component in the practice of Christian hospitality. I have argued also that wonder prompts us toward whatever is new or strange or demands remodeling those cognitive and societal structures that have made our world a familiar place. The worry is that my promotion of wonder sounds dangerously close to a promotion of curiosity in the vicious, medieval sense of the term.

For both Augustine and Aquinas, curiositas refers to the worldly lusting of the eyes denounced in I John 2:16. Thus curiosity is associated with a range of sinful glances: gazing upon a woman to induce lust, spying on our neighbors to discover their faults, and seeking out the deformed, the disharmonious, the foul and tasteless “out of a lust for experiment and knowledge.”67 Thomist scholar Josef Pieper is quick to point out that the condemnation of curiosity should not be seen as a condemnation of ‘“secular science’ per se,” but rather as condemning an “immoderate striving” to unveil “the natural mysteries of creation” and “God’s inscrutability” merely for private use and enjoyment.68 Most importantly for our purposes, this immoderate and insatiable lust to grasp cognitively creatures and the Creator is bound up with an insatiable lust to view the new and the different.69

Paul J. Griffiths explains the sense in which novelty-seeking fosters a vicious mode of knowledge:

This need for novelty contributes to the obsessiveness and insatiability of curiosity’s appetites: once the new thing is known, expropriated for the private enjoyment of the curious knower, it is, at once no longer new, and therefore no longer satisfying to the curious. Something else, some new object, must at once be sought. The curious gaze is endlessly restless, insanely so, in fact.70

Here the knower requires an incessant parade of the strange and unfamiliar for the sake of whatever pleasure can be gleaned from watching such a spectacle or in hopes of laying claim to discovering something new in order to impress one’s peers. Curiosity is thus an “appetite for nothing other than the ownership of new knowledge,” a knowledge that demands seeing God’s creatures not merely as new and different, but also free for the taking. The curious want to embrace “as their own what can only properly be had if loved by God.”71

So can we evoke wonder in our students without turning them into vicious curiosi? Yes, but this is why strategies for regulating wonder must be tethered to the practice of Christian hospitality. We have already seen how introducing students to classical and modern forms of skepticism can facilitate their seeing hitherto familiar creatures as rich and unique particulars that elude our cognitive grasp. To see creatures thus is to see them as beloved gifts of God, gifts not in the sense that they belong to us now, but in that they invite us to risk a richer participation in the being of the other as an icon of God. Recall that hospitable eyes learn to view the unexpected and perhaps “foul” or “deformed” stranger neither as an interesting spectacle nor as an intruder who must be repulsed, but as the soon-to-be revealed Christ.

Furthermore, when challenging students to inspect the socio-political, philosophical, or theological frameworks passed down by their tradition’s lawgivers to see whether they are unduly cramped and partitioned—a challenge necessitated by our commitment to Christian hospitality—we must supply them with adequate tools such that, if reconstruction is indeed called for, no one, including these law-givers, will be left out in the rain. For as Griffiths notes, our contemporary craving for the new can make us despise “recapitulating the knowledge of the ages,” as well as the bearers of that knowledge.72

Finally, instructors and students alike must practice an intellectual humility that withstands the need to fill angst-ridden silences with insignificant chatter. For Augustine and Aquinas, curiosity breeds a restlessness that manifests itself in “verbosity.”73 By contrast, the would-be studious or virtuous knower learns that “the reality of God and His creation, and the possibility of shaping himself and the world according to this truth, reveals itself only in silence.”74 This then is how I explain my students’ ability to reorient themselves when I pushed them to the brink of uttering what they considered blasphemous; in an all too rare occurrence, at least in my classroom, we endured the silence.75 And is it not one of the lessons of the Book of Job that God tends to show up in the context of apparent blasphemy and silence?

Cite this article
Teri Merrick, “Teaching Philosophy: Instilling Pious Wonder or Vicious Curiosity?”, Christian Scholar’s Review, 39:4 , 401-420


  1. Carolyn Walker Bynum, “Wonder,” The American Historical Review 102.1 (February 1997):26.
  2. Ibid., 24-26.
  3. 3Plato, “Theatetus” in Dialogues of Plato vol. III, trans. B. Jowett (Oxford: Clarendon Press,1953). <> (Ac-cessed September 15, 2009).
  4. Aristotle, Metaphysics in The Complete Works of Aristotle vol. II, ed. Jonathan Barnes (Princeton,NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984), 982b11-983a21. <> (Accessed November 24, 2009).
  5. A. N. Whitehead, Process and Reality, Corrected Edition (New York: Free Press, 1978), 39.
  6. For the philosophical arguments treating wonder as the proper emotional basis from which to develop a suitable ethics for welcoming perceived aliens or others, see Martha Nussbaum, Upheavals of Thought: Intelligence of Emotions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 54-55, and Luce Irigaray, “Wonder: A Reading of Descartes’ The Passions of the Soul” translated by Carolyn Burke and Gillian C. Gill, in Feminist Interpretations of Rene Descartes, ed.Susan Bordo (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999), 105-114. The recently published Handbook of the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality lists wonder along with gratitude, awe, and hope as “Specific Sacred Emotions,” citing the need for continued research on the emotion of wonder particularly (Roberts A. Emmons, “Emotion and Religion” in Handbook of Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, eds. R. Paloutzin and C. Park (New York: Guilford Press, 2005), 241-242. See too Robert C. Fuller ’s Wonder: From Emotion to Spirituality (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2006) for what is advertised to be “the first book-length study of the connection between wonder and religion” (Fuller, 8).
  7. I am grateful to an anonymous reviewer for recognizing the need to provide a more explicitly nuanced account of the use of the term “wonder” among philosophers and to articulate clearly how I intend to employ the term.
  8. Bynum, 3-4.
  9. Bynum, 6.
  10. An emotion’s formal object is defined as follows: “A formal object is a property implicitly ascribed by the emotion to its target, focus or propositional object, in virtue of which the emotion can be seen as intelligible” (Ronald de Sousa, “Emotion,” in The Stanford Encyclope-dia of Philosophy (Winter 2009 Edition), ed. Edward N. Zalta, <> (Accessed September 1, 2009). To describe an emotion’s formal object is considered an essential component in the definition of that emotion.
  11. Rene Descartes, “The Passions of the Soul,” in The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, trans.J. Cottingham, R. Stoothoff and D. Murdoch (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985),AT XI 373, 350.
  12. Douglas V. Henry and Michael D. Beaty, eds., The Schooled Heart: Moral Formation in American Higher Education (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2007), 9-12.
  13. Robert C. Roberts, “Free Love and Christian Higher Education” in The Schooled Heart, 67.
  14. Robert C. Roberts, Emotions: An Essay in Aid of Moral Psychology (Cambridge: CambridgeUniversity Press, 2003), 183-184.
  15. Lorraine Daston and Katherine Park, Wonders and the Order of Nature, 1150-1750 (New York: Zone Books, 1998), 12.
  16. Augustine, City of God, trans. Gerald Walsh, S. J. and Grace Monohan, O.S.U. (New York: Fathers of the Church, Ind., 1952) Bk. XXI, Ch. 8, 363.
  17. City of God, Bk. XVI, Ch. 8, 502-503.
  18. Again, I am indebted to an anonymous reviewer for prompting me to address this ques-tion.
  19. Daston and Park, 114.
  20. Cited in Daston and Park, 121; italics in the original.
  21. For evidence that an Aristotelian theology of nature fostered such inclinations, see the account of a sixteenth-century physician’s reaction to his predecessors’ treatment of “wondrous hermaphrodites” (Daston and Park, 201-203).
  22. Bynum, 12.
  23. Daston and Park, 14.
  24. Bynum, 12.
  25. Descartes, “The Passions of the Soul,” AT XI 373, 350.
  26. Luce Iragary, “Wonder: A Reading of Descartes The Passions of the Soul,” 107; italics in the original.
  27. Ibid. Compare with Bynum, 3.
  28. Nussbaum, 54.
  29. Elizabeth Newman, “Hospitality and Christian Higher Education,” Christian Scholar’s Review 33.1 (Fall 2003): 93. For a more developed account of the issues addressed in this article, see Newman’s Untamed Hospitality: Welcoming God and Other Strangers (Grand Rapids, MI:Brazos Press, 2007). To the best of my knowledge, Christine Pohl’s Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1999) sounded one of the earliest clarion calls to scholars working in evangelical academic institutions like mine to remember the significance of hospitality as a proper part of Christian piety. This was followed by And You Welcomed Me: A Sourcebook on Hospitality in Early Christianity, ed. AmyG. Oden (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2001), a collection of early Christian texts designed to illuminate the ground, scope and transformational aspect accorded to practicing hospitality.
  30. See Matthew 25:34-39.
  31. Augustine, “Sermon 179,” in Sermons, (148-183) on the New Testament, trans. Edmund Hill,O.P., in The Works of Saint Augustine Volume III, ed. John E. Rotelle, O.S.A. (New Rochelle,New York: New City Press, 1992), 179.3. <> (Accessed September 15, 2009).
  32. Pohl, 61.
  33. John Chrysostom, “Homily 21 on Romans,” in And You Welcomed Me, 63.
  34. I am not arguing that this is the entire explanation. For other contributing factors leading tothe neglect of Christian hospitality, see Pohl, 36-58.
  35. See especially Iragaray, 107.
  36. Newman, “Hospitality and Christian Education,” 77.
  37. Ibid., 84.
  38. Ibid.; italics in the original.
  39. Ibid., 85.
  40. Let us not forget that, according to Isaiah 53, the Gift of the Lord lacked any such attractive qualities.
  41. Michael Wyschogrod, The Body of Faith, God and the People of Israel (London: Jason AronsonInc., 1996), 231, as cited in Newman, 84.
  42. Cited by Robert A. Emmons, “Emotion and Religion” in Handbook of the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, eds. R. Paloutzian and C. Park (New York: Guilford Press, 2005), 241.
  43. Kelly Bulkeley, in Handbook of the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 242.
  44. Paul Silvia,“What Is Interesting? Exploring the Appraisal Structure of Interest,” Emotion, 5.6 (2005): 89.
  45. Silvia and his research partner found that judging a painting to be disturbing rather than pleasant actually proved to be correlated more strongly with interest. Samuel A. Turner and Paul J. Silvia, “Must Interesting Things be Pleasant? A Test of Competing Appraisal Structures,” Emotion, 6.4 (2006): 670-674.
  46. See Silvia, “What is Interesting?” 90-91; Turner and Silvia, “Must Interesting Things bePleasant?” 672-673; and Silvia, “Interest—The Curious Emotion,” Current Directions in Psychological Science 17 (2008): 57-60.
  47. In speaking of this spacious place, I am invoking the language of Psalm 18:19.
  48. I am fairly certain that most philosophy instructors in Christian institutions would agree with this statement. The challenge before us, a challenge I hope to begin addressing in this paper, is to do a better job of leading students through stage two.
  49. Bertrand Russell, “The Value of Philosophy” in Philosophy: The Quest for Truth, eds. L. Pojmanand L. Vaughn (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 26.
  50. Daston and Park, 45.
  51. Ibid., 44.
  52. Ibid.
  53. Cited in Christos C. Evangelio, Hellenic Philosophy (Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing,2006), 76.
  54. Some colleagues raise the legitimate concern that assimilating marginalized voices into a Platonically-structured dialectic merely perpetuates a destructive cultural hegemony that is the legacy of Anglo and European colonialism. My response is two-fold. First, students are not in a position to launch a successful challenge to governing socio-political norms until they are sufficiently familiar with the source and sustaining power of those norms. For instance, until we read John Locke’s argument for the right to private property as a natural right, many of my students have never considered the possibility that the legitimacy of this right may not be intuitively obvious to everyone. Introducing students to the actual historical proponents of cultural norms gives students the opportunity to question any assumptions about their “obvious” or “universal” nature. Second, Jacques Derrida refers to a culturally defining text as a web precisely because one cannot help becoming enmeshed in it and because the web itself is altered whenever something new touches it. Like it or not, the Evangelical tradition that many of my students have inherited contains a textual web with many strands, including contributions by Plato, St. Paul, Aquinas and Locke. Given their responsibility to pass along this tradition, students have a concomitant and corporate responsibility to assess its structural elements vis-à-vis the practice of Christian hospitality. Tampering with the web so as to include unduly silenced and unfamiliar voices is an integral part of that assessment.
  55. I will follow Griffiths’ lead and render these Latin terms in accordance with their English cognates. However, it is important to remember that these terms as used here do not bear the same connotations as in contemporary usage.
  56. Paul J. Griffiths, The Vice of Curiosity: An Essay on Intellectual Appetite (Winnepeg, Manitoba:Canadian Mennonite Press, 2006), 61-62.
  57. Ibid., 39.
  58. Ibid., 38.
  59. Here is not the place to attempt a full causal explanation for this lack of existential angst when confronted by the thought that they are surrounded by entities about which they know almost nothing. My hypothesis, however, is that we post-Galileo, post-Cartesian observers of nature are accustomed to remaining agnostic on the testimony of our senses until it is confirmed by the technologically enhanced and disciplined eye of modern science. In all honesty, my students and I often look neither to philosophy nor to theology, but rather to the natural sciences in hopes of receiving the new knowledge and understanding that will facilitate our reorientation to the non-human part of the cosmos. Whether philosophers in Christian institutions should be outsourcing this part of their job to their scientific colleagues or should be working in collaboration with these and other colleagues to develop curriculum informed by a theology of nature having genuine intellectual and ethical respectability is a question left for another day.
  60. Having students read chapter V of C. S. Lewis’ The Discarded Image or viewing portions of the Public Broadcasting System’s Galileo’s Battle for the Heavens is especially helpful in terms of convincing them of the beauty and apparent cogency of the medieval model.
  61. Plato, Republic, trans. G. M. A. Grube and C. D. C. Reeve (Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Pub-lishing, 1992), 538c-539a.
  62. Ibid., ix.
  63. My reasons for considering the incorporation of service-learning projects as a means of preventing students from becoming perpetually alienated skeptics and relativists are the following. Well-chosen service learning projects could allow students to retain some sort of connection to the communally “time-honored” sources of ethical and religious authority with which they are familiar. By retaining this connection during the first stage of wonder’s journey, there is more likelihood of a mutual transformation. Of course, this strategy presumes that the community in question is willing to embark on such a journey. Furthermore, many of my students come from church backgrounds where the emphasis is on holding certain propositional attitudes rather than regular and frequent participation in the sacraments. Given this emphasis, it is not surprising that often they experience a profound sense of alienation from God and/or their church once these propositions are called into question. Here it is important to remind them that most of us have had experience maintaining relationships with a friend, spouse, or parent even when facing the possibility that we may not know anything about them after all. Relationships are maintained during such times by continuing to eat, sleep, and recreate together, with the hope that a renewed knowledge and understanding of one another is in the offing. Similarly, service-learning projects may help maintain a student’s relationship to God or church based on orthopraxy even if a genuine orthodoxy cannot yet be articulated and affirmed.
  64. David Hume, An Enquiry of Human Understanding, eds. L. A. Selby-Bigge and P. H. Nidditch (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975), 37.
  65. Ibid., 25.
  66. Ibid., 29-30.
  67. Aquinas, Summa Theologica, trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province (Maryland:Christian Classics, 1981), IIaIIae.167.2.
  68. Josef Pieper, The Four Cardinal Virtues, trans. R. Winston, C. Winston, L. Lynch, and D.Coogan(Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1966), 199.
  69. Ibid., 200-201.
  70. Griffiths, The Vice of Curiosity, 14.
  71. Ibid., 12.
  72. Ibid., 14.
  73. Pieper, 200. See also Griffiths, 16-17.
  74. Pieper, 202.
  75. Over 25 years ago, Parker Palmer wrote of the importance of creating a space for silence inthe classroom. See To Know as We are Known (New York: HarperCollins, 1983), 79-83. However, if I am not alone in dreading those moments of dead air, then Parker’s advice bears repeating.

Teri Merrick

Azusa Pacific University
Teri Merrick is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Azusa Pacific University.