Aristotle famously asserted, “Philosophy begins in wonder.” Sometimes I wonder about that. My experience has been that many of us who join the Socrates guild initially do so because we want to be healed of deep vexations. As Irvine quotes Epicurus, “Vain is the word of a philosopher which does not heal any suffering of man.
In 1621 Robert Burton published The Anatomy of Melancholy, and now, nearly 400 years later, Eric Wilson has given us what amounts to an apology for melancholy. Aristotle and other intellectual immortals have observed that a disproportionate number of geniuses suffer from the inexplicable sadness that is melancholy.