primal wonder as a sprout of intellectual virtue
Keywords:P4C, primal wonder, sprout of virtue, intellectual virtue
This paper argues that the concept of primal wonder in P4C, proposed by Thomas E. Jackson, can be seen as a “sprout” or seed of intellectual virtue. My understanding of his insight is inspired by Mengzi’s view of moral cultivation and Aristotle’s eudaimonist account of virtue ethics. According to Mengzi, all humans possess four innate sprouts of virtue, and the aim of moral education is to nurture these moral sprouts so that they can grow up into fully ripened virtues. In terms of P4C, Jackson contends that all of us are born already with a special feeling of wonder which he refers to as “primal wonder”. Synthesizing his statement with Mengzi’s agricultural metaphor of moral sprouts, I shall take one step forward by arguing that the innate sense of wonder within every child can be seen as a sprout of virtue. Additionally, once children’s primal wonder has been transformed into a virtue through implementing P4C in the classroom, this admirable character trait, I suggest, should be understood as an intellectual virtue according to Aristotelian virtue ethics. This is because the virtue of wonder can promote children’s intellectual flourishing, which is fully endorsed by Aristotle’s contention that the happiest kind of life is a philosophical one, and that philosophy begins in wonder. In short, if primal wonder as a sprout of intellectual virtue can lead to the highest good for human beings, then one of the main educational goals of doing philosophy with children, I suggest, is to turn their primal wonder into a virtuous habit so that they can live an examined life.
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