Emotions that Foster Learning: Wonder and Shock in Proclus

Corentin Tresnie

Université Libre de Bruxelles / KU Leuven, Belgium , Belgium


In his Commentaries, Proclus (Neoplatonic philosopher, 5th century A.D.) describes the ways in which a teacher can awaken the desire for knowledge and philosophy in a given soul, and help this soul to make cognitive and moral progress. He considers such an intervention to be a case of providence, analogous to both the action of divine Pronoia and the care of one's personal daemon. As the soul being thus educated is still unaware of the merits of rational thought, the teacher needs to use the emotions of his student to stimulate him; he might even want to generate desirable emotions in his soul. I focus here on two emotions: wonder and shock. The first serves to stimulate interest while preserving autonomy. The second allows deeper commitment at the price of reduced autonomy of the pupil. Both are complementary aspects of philosophical perplexity.


Proclus, Neoplatonism, Emotion, Surprise, Fear, Anxiety, Wonder, Fright, Thauma, Learning, Teaching, Autonomy, Mysteries, Reversion, Philosophy, Reason, Passion

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Tresnie, C. (2022). Emotions that Foster Learning: Wonder and Shock in Proclus. Vox Patrum, 82, 237–262. https://doi.org/10.31743/vp.12969

Corentin Tresnie  corentin.tresnie@ulb.be
Université Libre de Bruxelles / KU Leuven, Belgium https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1446-3001


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