Although wonder is a response to what is extraordinary or regarded as such, this covers a variety of things. Hence, wonder covers a spectrum from mere surprise or puzzlement to stronger responses like dread or amazement; moreover, it is often linked to other powerful responses like fear or admiration, and it can lead people into many pursuits and areas of reflection. I look at the variety of the objects of wonder, and of the neighbouring responses and conceptual connections found here, (...) then I discuss the response of wonder itself, and its causes and effects. Finally, I ask why the sense of wonder can atrophy, and whether it can be suppressed deliberately. (shrink)
I discuss John Henry Newman's correspondence with William Froude, F.R.S., (1810–79) and his family. Froude remained an unbeliever, and I argue that Newman's disputes with him about the ethics of belief and the relationship between religion and science not only reveal important aspects of his thought, but also anticipate modern discussions on foundationalism, the ethics of beliefs and scientism.
I take up Richard Swinburne's point, in his "Responsibility and Atonement," Ch. 5, that although the past cannot be changed, wrongdoers may change its significance by 'disowning' their actions through atonement, just as their victims may do so through forgiveness. I argue that the point can and should be pressed much more strongly than it is by Swinburne within the terms of his own discussion; and that it has a much wider significance, transcending that discussion, for there is a constant (...) interplay between events, human actions, and our retrospective assessment of the past. Finally, I look tentatively at the question in an eschatological perspective. (shrink)