Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Wondrous TruthsThe Improbable Triumph of Modern Science$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

J.D. Trout

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199385072

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199385072.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 02 December 2021

Wonder and the Feeling of Understanding

Wonder and the Feeling of Understanding

(p.1) 1 Wonder and the Feeling of Understanding
Wondrous Truths

J.D. Trout

Oxford University Press

All animals learn, but only one yearns to. Humans are the primates that explain. For humans, few products of intellectual life are more exhilarating, more pleasing to give and receive, than an explanation that produces a strong sense of understanding. And to scientists, there is no other occupation where explanation is so ubiquitous. Marie Curie likened the pleasure of scientific explanation to the wonder of “a child placed before natural phenomena which impress him like a fairy tale.” Copernicus was transported to the heavens where, “side by side with Zeus himself, I take my fill of ambrosia, the food of the gods.” But few people are consistently motivated by high-minded pursuits. Most have at least a little cash on the table. And for scientists, the cash comes in the form of the sensation of certainty, or of understanding: a fitting explanation feels good.

Keywords:   wonder, sense of understanding, pleasure, explanation, certainty

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .