Strange Wonder: The Closure of Metaphysics and the Opening of Awe

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Columbia University Press, 2008 - Philosophy - 256 pages
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Strange Wonder confronts Western philosophy's ambivalent relationship to the Platonic "wonder" that reveals the strangeness of the everyday. On the one hand, this wonder is said to be the origin of all philosophy. On the other hand, it is associated with a kind of ignorance that ought to be extinguished as swiftly as possible. By endeavoring to resolve wonder's indeterminacy into certainty and calculability, philosophy paradoxically secures itself at the expense of its own condition of possibility.

Strange Wonder locates a reopening of wonder's primordial uncertainty in the work of Martin Heidegger, for whom wonder is first experienced as the shock at the groundlessness of things and then as an astonishment that things nevertheless are. Mary-Jane Rubenstein traces this double movement through the thought of Emmanuel Levinas, Jean-Luc Nancy, and Jacques Derrida, ultimately thematizing wonder as the awesome, awful opening that exposes thinking to devastation as well as transformation. Rubenstein's study shows that wonder reveals the extraordinary in and through the ordinary, and is therefore crucial to the task of reimagining political, religious, and ethical terrain.

 

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182
Argumentum in Quintam Epistolam.
Etsi quintam hanc consuetudo quaedam Platoni inscribit epistolam, videtur
tamem potius esse Dionis, Platonem in seipso totum pro viribus effingentis. Instruit
autem Perdiccam principem constitutum in monarchia, ut meminerit se iuvenem esse,
ideoque consilio ac ministerio seniorum indigere, non quidem omnium, sed
probatissimorum, non quavis in re, sed in gubernandi forma, qui intelligant, quid
potissimum gubernationis cuiusque sit proprium, sive gubernet unus, sive Pauci, sive
multi. Vocem vero gubernationis esse vult spiritum vitamque eius, id est legem, quae
officia et erga Deum, et erga homines congrua instituere debet et exequi. Alioqui salva
esse non possit. At quoniam significat se et Euphreum disciplina Platonis imbutos,
tenere quae ad civilem pertinent disciplinam, idcirco ne Perdiccas hac de re diffideret:
propterea quod Plato ipse nunquam populo suo in civili disciplina profuerit subiungit.
Platonem cognovisse populum suum morbo insanabili laborare, ideoque medicorum
prudentum more noluisse, et frustra, et cum sui discrimine bestiam insanabilem
curandam suscipere.
Argumentum in Sextam Epistolam.
Plato divinus, Hermiam, Erastum, Coriseum, finitimos inter se principes, ad
verissimam concordiam cohortatur, hac sola salvos fore vaticinant, perque hanc
aspirante Deo, qui unione gaudet, bona omnia consequuturos, praeterea eo denique
perventuros, ut rebus rite compositis divinam sapientiam propensiori studio quam
humanam, ut par est, prosequi valeant. Concordiam vero stabilem firmari inter illos
posse tradit pacto dumtaxat atque lege: pacto inquam legitimo sacris rite peractis
invicem stabilito, ac iureiurando interposito, Deum ipsum testando atque obsecrando
tanquam unionis autorem atque conservatorem. Testando inquam, et obsecrando sub
impari, quo Deus gaudere dicitur, numero. Tria enim summa rerum principia, quae in
prima quoque epistola attigit, huc adducit. Ubi enim ait omnium ducem praesentium
atque futurorum, mundi animam vult intelligi, quae utpote principium motus, res omnes
a futuro in praesens, a praesenti praeteritum temporali ratione perducit. Ubi vero patrem
dicit et dominum, summum Deum ipsumque bonum significat. Sed mediam inter duo,
haec mentem quandam divinam videtur inserere, quando dum repetit ducis, subiungit et
causae. Nam apud Platonem saepe rex significat ipsum bonum, causa vero mentem, dux
denique animam. Et quoniam causam refert ad mentem, ideo in Timaeo Platonici
 

Contents

The Wound of Wonder
7
The Thales Dilemma
19
Martin Heidegger
25
Emmanuel Levinas
61
JeanLuc Nancy
99
Jacques Derrida
133
Possibility
185
Nearer Than I lands and Teet
193
Bibliography 25
235
Index
256
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About the author (2008)

Mary-Jane Rubenstein (PhD, Philosophy of Religion, Columbia) is Professor and Chair of Religion at Wesleyan University. She is the author of Worlds Without End: The Many Lives of the Multiverse (Columbia, 2014) and Strange Wonder: The Closure of Metaphysics and the Opening of Awe (Columbia, 2009) and the coeditor (with Catherine Keller) of Entangled Worlds: Science, Religion, Materiality (Fordham, 2017).

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