Date: June 20 – 23, 2016
Location: Indiana University Bloomington
Chaired by: Lisa Sideris, Director
Hosted by: Consortium for the Study of Religion,
Ethics, and Society (CSRES)


David AbramDavid Abram, Ph.D.,
is a cultural ecologist and philosopher. He is the author of Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology (Pantheon, 2010), and The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-than-Human World (Vintage, 1997).

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CSRES’ logo represents the complex and ever-changing
interconnections of religion, spirituality, ethics, and society.


Established in 2013, the Indiana University Consortium for the Study of Religion, Ethics, and Society (CSRES) is an interdisciplinary association of scholars, academic programs, and research centers from the eight campuses of Indiana University. Our mandate is to aid in the development of research to better understand religion, ethics, values, and spirituality in society and to promote collaboration among constituents at IU and beyond. CSRES utilizes and builds upon IU’s extensive strengths in religion and ethics to advance research in key themes.


Aristotle observed that philosophy originates in wonder. Descartes considered wonder the first of all the passions, a “sudden surprise of the soul” that moves the mind toward understanding and away from ignorance. Others have considered wonder a defective state, a stunned response that impedes the acquisition of knowledge. Wonder is the province of the wide-eyed child in the woods, and the wild-eyed scientist in the lab. Scientific wonder beckons us into mystery but may also banish the mysterious and drain away its power. Wonder is prompted by the odd and uncanny, the strange and novel, the transcendent and sublime, as well as encounters with the monstrous and horrific. Its virtuous dimensions shade into generosity, humility, and compassion, while its shadow side suggests the lure of unwholesome enchantments and hubristic trespass. Wonder can engender moral caution and respect for otherness, but it may also foster a will to mastery. Wonder has variously been associated with, or dissociated from, curiosity, awe, intimations of divinity, infinity, the sublime, the miraculous or supernatural, feelings of astonishment and puzzlement. Wonder has also played a crucial role in the environmental movement since its inception.

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