Why wonder is the most human of all emotions | Aeon Essays
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Wonder is said to be a childish emotion. However, as adults, we experience it when gaping at something unexpectedly spectacular.
Adam Smith, an 18th-century moral philosopher, describes wonder as something new and singular that is presented, and memory cannot find any image that nearly resembles this unique appearance.
The bodily symptoms of this strange appearance point to three dimensions:
At the mild end of this emotion, we talk about things being marvelous. More intense emotions might be described as astonishing. The extreme of this experiences is met with expressions of awe.
Science, religion, and art are unified in wonder. Each engages our sense, draws out curiosity, and instills reverence.
They are all uniquely human institutions and reflect the cultural maturation of our species. They are inventions for feeding the appetite that wonder excites in us, generating creativity and enduring inquiry.
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