Wonder and Inquiry

“Son of Klinias, I think that you are wondering…”

Plato’s Alcibiades—the first Platonic dialogue that students in late antiquity, following the Iamblichean curriculum, would read—begins with Socrates speaking these words. From this manifest appearance of wonder comes the invitation to philosophy. Yet for Socrates, and for the Platonist following his example, philosophy never displaces wonder, never undermines the encounter with the cosmos which is philosophy’s own fons et origo, as we see throughout Plato’s portrayal of Socrates, and especially in the Parmenides and the Phaedo.

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“Truly, I am amazed…”

Just a beautful thought for the day. In his commentary on the Alcibiades, Proclus compares Socrates’ attentive care for Alcibiades with the attentive care of the Demiurge for the cosmos:

If what “was in discordant and disorderly movement” [Timaeus 30a] could say something to the Demiurge, it would have uttered these words: “In truth, I wonder at your beneficent will and power, that have reached as far as my level, are everywhere present to me, and from all sides arrange me in an orderly fashion.”

In Alc. 125,15–126,1; trans. O’Neill.