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Whitehead, in Science & the Modern World quotes the following from the beginning of Wordsworths Prelude:

Ye presences of Nature in the sky!

And on the earth! Ye visions of the hills!

And souls of lonely places!

And he observes:

Wordsworth was a poet expressing himself; and not dry philosophical points.

According to Arendt, however, Aristotle claimed that wonder (thaumazein) was the beginning of philosophy; Wordsworth appears to be expressing exactly this sentiment and in fact da Vinci paints Aristotle in the Academy pointing towards the earth ('Ye visions of the hills') and of course prelude is a kind of beginning.

But if wonder is the beginning of philosophy, is it then pre-philosophical, and one cannot philosophise through it?

Does Aristotle mean that wonder is the beginning of philosophy in the history of philosophy and hence not repeatable; or does he mean that it is the beginning of philosophy in every man or woman who is struck by the wonder of the world, and then takes hold of this orientation?

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Does Aristotle mean that wonder is the beginning of philosophy in the history of philosophy and hence not repeatable; or does he mean that it is the beginning of philosophy in every man or woman who is struck by the wonder of the world, and then takes hold of this orientation?

Well, both. Aristotle says this near the beginning of the Metaphysics. He asserts that philosophy was, and continues to be, born from wonder. That is, from an acute awareness of ignorance, together with an accompanying desire to escape ignorance. A consideration that Aristotle invokes to support his theory that philosophy was historically a fruit of wonder, is that philosophy appeared at a time "when more or less all the necessary sciences existed". So that philosophy itself was not a "necessary" science - but a science for the sake of science.

But it is clear that this science [=philosophy] is not productive [=aimed at a practical purpose] also from the early history of philosophy. For it was because of wonder that men both now and originally began to philosophize. To begin with, they wondered at those puzzles that were to hand, such as about the affections of the moon and events connected with the sun and the stars and about the origins of the universe. And the man who is puzzled and amazed is thought to be ignorant (hence the lover of stories is, in a way, a lover of wisdom, since a story is composed of wonders). And so, if men indeed began to philosophize to escape ignorance, it is clear that they pursued science for the sake of knowledge and not for any utility. And events bear this out. For when more or less all the necessary sciences existed, and also those connected with leisure and lifestyle, this kind of understanding began to be sought after. So it is clear that we seek it for no other use but rather, as we say, as a free man is for himself and not for another, so is this science the only one of the sciences that is free. For it alone exists for its own sake. (Metaphysics Book Alpha Ch 2)

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