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In Particular of Wonder

     It can be said in particular of wonder that it is useful in making us learn and retain in our memory things we have previously been ignorant of. For we wonder only at what appears rare and extraordinary to us.
     And nothing can appear so to us except through our having been ignorant of it or through its being different from things we have known, for it is in virtue of this difference that it is called extraordinary. Now even though something which has been unknown to us may be newly present to our understanding or our senses, we do not on that account retain it in our memory unless the idea we have of it is strengthened in our brain by some passion, or alternatively by the application of our understanding, which our will fixes in a particular state of attention and reflection. And the other passions can serve to make one notice things which appear good or evil, but we just have wonder for ones which appear rare only. Accordingly, we see that those who have no natural inclination to this passion are ordinarily very ignorant.

René Descartes, Holland, 1645

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