Essays About

The Hidden Assumptions of Wonder

Watching an airplane gain altitude after takeoff, I marvel at the feat of flight. But on second thought I correct myself: my marveling depends on taking gravity for granted. Would it not be equally reasonable to marvel that a broken plane plummets to earth? If I strip my thoughts of custom, cutting my brain to the bone of ratiocination, I find no first principle of logic dictating that objects must fall.

We call facts like flight extraordinary because they violate ordinary facts like gravity. But ordinary facts are only extraordinary facts we have grown used to.

If we took nothing for granted, there would be no dullness to highlight the wonderful. Wonder rests on lack of wonder.