CSRES International Conference on “Wonder & the Natural World”

WonderNature-ConferenceCSRES International Conference on “Wonder & the Natural World”

June 20-23, 2016

Indiana University

Conference Information and registration:

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Plenary speakers:

  • Michael Northcott / University of Edinburgh
  • Whitney Bauman / Florida International University
  • Gretel Van Wieren / Michigan State University
  • Mary-Jane Rubenstein / Wesleyan University
  • Brendon Larson / University of Waterloo
  • Judy Natal / Columbia College
  • Sarah Pike / California State University, Chico
  • Scott Russell Sanders / Indiana University

Theme: Aristotle observed that philosophy originates in wonder. Descartes considered wonder the first of all the passions, a “sudden surprise of the soul” that moves the mind toward understanding and away from ignorance. Others have considered wonder a defective state, a stunned response that impedes knowledge. Wonder is the province of the wide-eyed child in the woods, and the wild-eyed scientist in the lab. Scientific wonder beckons us into mystery but may also banish the mysterious and drain away its power. Wonder is prompted by the odd and uncanny, the strange and novel, the transcendent and sublime, as well as encounters with the monstrous and horrific. Its virtuous dimensions shade into generosity, humility, and compassion, while its shadow side suggests the lure of unwholesome enchantments and hubristic trespass. Wonder can engender moral caution and respect for otherness, but it may also foster a will to mastery. Wonder has been associated with, or dissociated from, curiosity, awe, intimations of divinity, infinity, the miraculous or supernatural, feelings of astonishment and puzzlement. Wonder has also played a crucial role in the environmental movement since its inception.



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(Sculpture by Sara Cunningham-Bell)

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