Hume on Curiosity

Abstract

Hume concludes Book II of his Treatise of Human Nature with a section on the passion of curiosity, ‘that love of truth, which was the first source of all our enquiries’. At first sight, this characterisation of curiosity – as the motivating factor in that specifically human activity that is the pursuit of knowledge – may seem unoriginal. However, when Hume speaks of the ‘source of all our enquiries’, he is referring both to the universal human pursuit of knowledge and to his own philosophical project. Seen in this light, his discussion of curiosity takes on a new significance, as it weaves together elements of his systematic account of human nature – notably, his theory of cognition and motivation – with observations about the pursuit of philosophy as well as the progress of the arts and sciences. In the present paper, I offer a reconstruction of Hume’s view on curiosity and its role in cognition and inquiry.

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References found in this work

An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding.David Hume - 1955 - In Steven M. Cahn (ed.), Exploring Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology. Oxford University Press. pp. 112.
Pointless Truth.Jonathan Kvanvig - 2008 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 32 (1):199-212.

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Citations of this work

Deep Epistemic Vices.Ian James Kidd - 2018 - Journal of Philosophical Research 43:43-67..
Hume’s Practically Epistemic Conclusions?Hsueh Qu - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 170 (3):501-524.
Constructing and Validating a Scale of Inquisitive Curiosity.Kathryn Iurino, Brian Robinson, Markus Christen, Paul Stey & Mark Alfano - 2018 - In Ilhan Inan, Lani Watson, Dennis Whitcomb & Safiye Yigit (eds.), The Moral Psychology of Curiosity. Rowman & Littlefield.

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