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Strange Wonder


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments Introduction: Wonder and the Births of Philosophy 1. Repetition: Martin Heidegger 2. Openness: Emmanuel Levinas 3. Relation: Jean-Luc Nancy 4. Decision: Jacques Derrida Postlude: Possibility Notes Bibliography Index

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Western philosophy's relationship to "wonder" is deeply ambivalent. On the one hand, wonder is said to be the origin of all philosophy. On the other hand, it is associated with a kind of ignorance that ought to be extinguished. This study argues that by endeavoring to resolve wonder's indeterminacy, philosophy has secured itself at the expense of its own condition of possibility.Strange Wonder locates a reopening of this primordial uncertainty in the work of Martin Heidegger, whose "wonder" oscillates between a shock at the groundlessness of things and an astonishment that things nevertheless are. Mary-Jane Rubenstein traces this double movement through the thought of Emmanuel Levinas, Jean-Luc Nancy, and Jacques Derrida, tracing wonder as an awesome, awful opening that exposes thought to devastation as well as transformation. Insofar as wonder reveals the extraordinary through the ordinary, Rubenstein argues it is crucial to the task of reimagining political, religious, and ethical possibilities.

About the Author

Mary-Jane Rubenstein is assistant professor of religion at Wesleyan University, where she teaches in the fields of philosophy of religion, modern Christian thought, and feminist, gender, and sexuality studies.


One of the most gripping and timely accounts of Continental Philosophy... The reader can only come to the end of this book astonished. -- Catherine Keller Modern Theology In all, the book offers a new understanding of an influential sector of twentieth-century philosophy. -- Jonathan Malesic Journal of the American Academy of Religion ...passionately argued and engagingly written. -- Paul A. Macdonald Jr. Scottish Journal of Theology a fun read. -- George Pattison Reviews in Religion and Theology

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