An admirable science: philosophy and wonder in Descartes




Although Descartes pretends to talk about moral issues in general, and about passions specifically, as if no one had written about them before, in the case of admiration, his reference to the ancient world is clear. Specifically, in this respect the French thinker is critically opposed to the Aristotelian position, which understands admiration as the beginning of philosophy. In contrast to the classical proposal, which makes this emotion the permanent driving force behind research into the first causes, for Descartes excessive curiosity and the stupor of amazement are to be rejected. Nevertheless, some have pointed out the ambivalent nature of Cartesian statements. It is not in vain that admiration is not only the first of the passions, but also a fundamental component of all of them. And while in the area of knowledge it must be overcome, in other areas, such as that of the contemplation of divinity or the enjoyment of the human free will, such disdain disappears. In this sense, we intend to explore the way in which Descartes separates admiration and knowledge and then claims its importance on a practical level.

Keywords: Wonder, amazement, curiosity, free will, passion.

Author Biography

Vicente Raga-Rosaleny, Universitat de València

Professor of Philosophy at Universitat de València