In an unconventionally written book that challenges the literary imagination of its readers, Case Western Reserve University’s Jeremy Bendik-Keymer explored how wonder is central to Martha C. Nussbaum’s work. Nussbaum’s work is opposed to the emotional and political conditions of ‘narcissism’—the tendency to seek to control the wills of others in order to defend oneself against perceived vulnerabilities. Our capacity for wondering is important for growing beyond narcissism.
In Nussbaum’s Politics of Wonder: How the Mind’s Original Joy Is Revolutionary, Bendik-Keymer, professor of philosophy, wrote about a politics of wonder that is consistent with understanding this idea. Taking issue with understandings of wonder viewing it as an emotion of surprise or delight, he developed an alternate tradition finding wonder in concert with the freedom of imagination found by degrees within much of human understanding. The result is a constructive rereading of Nussbaum’s oeuvre, surprising for how it disencumbers her work of some falsehoods surrounding anxiety and anger and for the ways it implies an egalitarian politics of relational autonomy more socialist than liberal.
Misty Morrison’s visual inquiry accompanies the book, creating space for the reader to wonder. Morrison paints and prints how families involve wonder, starting with moments in her child’s life when she wonders what they might see.