awe and progress

Over at Laudator Temporis Acti, a recent post declared: "For this feeling of wonder shows that you are a philosopher, since wonder is the only beginning of philosophy." Wonder - as a point of departure. Wonder, not pride. Wonder, not fantasy.
Ruskin writes: "The pride of physical science is indeed adverse, like every other pride, both to religion and truth; but the sincerity of science, so far from being hostile, is the path-maker among the mountains for the feet of those who publish peace." It is an interesting lens to measure by. How much wonder is contained within a given work?
Awe has been lost in the modern, jaded age, so chuffed to ponder the perverse. Ruskin writes that his age "seemed to love what was ugly" - which figures in, insidiously, to the Baudelaire-Burgess legacy. Surely wonder can't be held in the same breath as Conrad's oh, the horror!
Many, many thinkers blame the secularization of culture for this shift. By secularization, they also mean "consistent methodological principles," professionalization, rationalization and a shift in political economy that moved away from the household.
But while there are some wonderfully creative conversations about the economy - like those of Amartya Sen, I wonder about trying to promote a discussion of awe. One of my favourite such passages is by St. John Chrysostom: "We admire many things; the beauty of a portico, of paintings, of a youthful body. We also admire the vastness of the Ocean; fear will be added to this admiration if we perceive the abyss of the depth of the sea, and it is this fear-admiration which the Psalmist experiences in contemplating the vast and immense Ocean of God's wisdom." Gervase Mathew, in Byzantine Aesthetics, adds, "This is perhaps reminiscent of Longinus on the Sublime, 'that echo that leads to ecstasy'."

And to echo back to a more material concern, one of my college science professors would often bemoan the fact that starvation persists despite there being enough food and transportation to feed everyone. Ruskin wrote the same: claiming that later generations would hate his age despite all of the industrial advances, as it had not solved the problem of famine.
During childhood, mother would often list the number of countries the food on the table had come from (I grew up in a non-agricultural Asian metropolis, what can I say) - and this added a sense of awe to our thanksgiving. What about bringing awe back? And isn't it being brought back? People are traveling out to farms to see all the hard work that is done to grow the food we sometimes take for granted. There is a growing awe for the craftsman, often filmed in short videos, sent around the web.
Couldn't awe also heal our economy? We know οἰκονομία, or oikonomia, means "household, management" - well then, if we infuse awe into all that we partake of each day, wouldn't we "publish peace"?
That said, there is a great difference between the hope in progress that emerged in Victorian society, and the Aristotelian view of the same. In Aristotle's account of an ideal society, which he described by using literary tools he was critical of, he was trying to point out a way forwards while warning us not to take the ideal literally. I wrote about where I got that idea here.
The only time we can jump into the ideal is when we feel that awe that makes us humble, and hear "that echo that leads back to ecstasy" - a voice that is not our own. They are but moments, due to our imperfection - but they bolster us to try to prolong them within ourselves.

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