Tuesday, September 30

Why wonder is the most human of all emotions


Einstein said that the common element between genius and childhood is curiosity. Never lose the ability to be curious. Asking why. Poking and prodding. Forever searching and being in a wondrous frame. Like I take pics. I like small things and big things and commonplace things. Wonder. Don't be cynical and stop looking at things. Step outside your comfort zone. Not just on holiday. People rush about the world when wonders are below their noses. 



Why wonder is the most human of all emotions – Jesse Prinz – Aeon

When I was growing up in New York City, a high point of my calendar was the annual arrival of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus — ‘the greatest show on earth’. My parents endured the green-haired clowns, sequinned acrobats and festooned elephants as a kind of garish pageantry. For me, though, it was a spectacular interruption of humdrum reality – a world of wonder, in that trite but telling phrase.

Wonder is sometimes said to be a childish emotion, one that we grow out of. But that is surely wrong. As adults, we might experience it when gaping at grand vistas. I was dumbstruck when I first saw a sunset over the Serengeti. We also experience wonder when we discover extraordinary facts. I was enthralled to learn that, when arranged in a line, the neurons in a human brain would stretch the 700 miles from London to Berlin. But why? What purpose could this wide-eyed, slack-jawed feeling serve? It’s difficult to determine the biological function of any affect, but whatever it evolved for (and I’ll come to that), wonder might be humanity’s most important emotion.

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