Philosophers are all rather proud of Aristotle’s notion that philosophy begins in “wonder” – it seems such a superior birth, so disinterested, so aristocratically outside the tangle of pleb emotions.
For these reasons, that origin story has, for the most part, been more interpreted than questioned.
It is, of course, hard to get clear on these things, which depend on self-reporting. Stories that one tells about oneself are, prima facie, self-interested.
Myself, my “philosophical” thinking has its roots more in worry than in wonder. Worry about the dark. Worry about abandonment.
This morning I saw, very plainly, that is, as plainly as I have seen the clouds in the sky gather and obscure the sun and foreshadow ran –worry coming over Adam’s face, as we were headed to school.
Adam, for a long time now, has accepted and, even more, enjoyed going to school. So I was a little nonplussed that, when we got there, he neither accepted nor enjoyed his destination, but instead stood at the entrance and said he wanted to go home now.
He didn’t dash out to the playground, as he usually does when the kids are out there, leaving me to stow away his lunch. He didn’t say hi to his teachers.
I could already see, rolling him to the school in his stroller, that something was going on. His face had a set cast, and he inflected his non-response when I asked him what was up. Adam, nearly three, has long mastered the grammar of silence. In this, he’s already adult.
So I left him there, in the playground, unhappily and tearfully screaming. I went home feeling like a monster. But I am sure when I come back this afternoon, he’ll be fine.
Novalis, somewhere, proposed that philosophy was nothing more than nostalgia, homesickness.
I’m on my man Novalis’s team today. Sigh.