I survey some of the connections between the metaphysics of the relation between mind and matter, and quantum theory’s measurement problem. After discussing the metaphysics, especially the correct formulation of physicalism, I argue that two state-reduction approaches to quantum theory’s measurement problem hold some surprises for philosophers’ discussions of physicalism. Though both approaches are compatible with physicalism, they involve a very different conception of the physical, and of how the physical underpins the mental, from what most philosophers expect. And one (...) approach exemplifies a a problem in the definition of physicalism which the metaphysical literature has discussed only in the abstract. A version of the paper has appeared in Consciousness and Human Identity, ed. John Cornwell, OUP 1998. (shrink)
This paper explores the nature of curiosity from an epistemological point of view. First it motivates this exploration by explaining why epistemologists do and should care about what curiosity is. Then it surveys the relevant literature and develops a particular approach.
Curiosity, seen as a motive to do exploration within definite and generally accepted frames, is to be distinguished from wonder, where doubt about the frames themselves is the underlying factor. Granted this distinction, it will be argued that educational institutions need to build on both notions, i.e. wonder as well as curiosity.
This chapter focuses on the question of whether true belief can have final value because it answers our ‘intellectual interest’ or ‘natural curiosity’. The idea is that sometimes we are interested in the truth on some issue not for any ulterior purpose, but simply because we are curious about that issue. It is argued that this approach fails to provide an adequate explanation of the final value of true belief, since there is an unbridgeable gap between our valuing the (...) truth on some issue for its own sake, and that truth's being valuable for its own sake. (shrink)
ABSTRACTA thriving project in contemporary epistemology concerns identifying and explicating the epistemic virtues. Although there is little sustained argument for this claim, a number of prominent sources suggest that curiosity is an epistemic virtue. In this paper, I provide an account of the virtue of curiosity. After arguing that virtuous curiosity must be appropriately discerning, timely and exacting, I then situate my account in relation to two broader questions for virtue responsibilists: What sort of motivations are required (...) for epistemic virtue? And do epistemic virtues need to be reliable? I will sketch an account on which curiosity is only virtuous when rooted in a non-instrumental appreciation of epistemic goods, before arguing that curiosity can exhibit intellectual virtue irrespective of whether one is reliable in satisfying it. (shrink)
The paper discusses Bernard Williams’ argument that immortality is rationally undesirable because it leads to insufferable boredom. We first spell out Williams’ argument in the form of a dilemma. We then show that the first horn of this dilemma, namely Williams’ requirement of the constancy of character of the immortal, is defensible. We next argue against a recent attempt that accepts the dilemma, but rejects the conclusion Williams draws from it. From these we conclude that blocking the second horn of (...) the dilemma is the best way to respond to Williams. Our objection contends that Williams overlooks a basic feature of human existence, namely curiosity, and that his negative evaluation of an eternal life is therefore unconvincing. (shrink)
Curiosity is a wonder of the human mind. It goes to the heart of modernity, as a driving force for learning, novel insights, and innovation, both for individuals and communities. In societies dependent on science and development, finding out what promotes or hampers curiosity and wonder in school curricula and science education is accordingly essential. In this conceptual article, I suggest a framework for curiosity-based science education and I explore options for its wellbeing and development during preschool, (...) preadolescence, and adolescence. In preschool, curiosity and wonder are triggered by perceptive beauty rather than by facts, and a method emphasizing maximism as a complementary factor in preschool science education is proposed. In prepuberty, curiosity is encouraged by exploring the diversity of the world. Facts and clear-cut knowledge constitute a firm foundation for scientific thinking. In high school, curiosity is ignited by means of a better balance between models and phenomenology. Criticism has arisen over the one-sided use of models in high school science education, which limits scientific thinking to frameworks defined by the actual model. Possible solutions to maintain students’ curiosity and ideas to improve the balance between phenomenology and models are discussed. (shrink)
I propose that Confucianism incorporates a latent commitment to the closely related epistemic virtues of curiosity and inquisitiveness. Confucian praise of certain people, practices, and dispositions is only fully intelligible if these are seen as exercises and expressions of epistemic virtues, of which curiosity and inquisitiveness are the obvious candidates. My strategy is to take two core components of Confucian ethical and educational practice and argue that each presupposes a specific virtue. To have and to express a ‘love (...) of learning’ requires the virtue of curiosity, while the normative practice of good questioning requires exercise of the virtue of inquisitiveness. Taken together, people engaging in the foundational Confucian project of moral self-cultivation must desire and acquire a range of epistemic goods, a set of dispositions that manifest in the virtues of curiosity and inquisitiveness, possession of which is admirable and excellent. Such, at least, is the claim defend in this chapter, which is an exercise in cross-cultural virtue epistemology. (shrink)
I argue that curiosity about the world deserves attention as a moral virtue, even apart from the role it may play in (the more generally praised) love of wisdom. First, close relationships and caring are reasonably considered part of a well-lived life, and curiosity is important for caring both about people and about things in the world. Second, curiosity helps us to define an appropriate way for persons to be affected by certain situations. Perhaps most important, (...) class='Hi'>curiosity can help one to live well because it addresses the most fundamental existential task humans face, the need to see their lives as meaningful. I argue that curiosity is a distinctive virtue but suggest that related virtues (e.g., receptivity, reverence) may contribute to different kinds of worthy engagement with the world. (shrink)
In this book, Ilhan Inan questions the classical definition of curiosity as _a desire to know._ Working in an area where epistemology and philosophy of language overlap, Inan forges a link between our ability to become aware of our ignorance and our linguistic aptitude to construct terms referring to things unknown. The book introduces the notion of inostensible reference. Ilhan connects this notion to related concepts in philosophy of language: knowledge by acquaintance and knowledge by description; the referential and (...) the attributive uses of definite descriptions; the _de re/de dicto_ distinction; and Kripke’s distinction between rigid and accidental designators. Continuing with a discussion of the conditions for curiosity and its satisfaction, Inan argues that the learning process—starting in curiosity and ending in knowledge—is always an effort to transform our inostensible terms into ostensible ones. A contextual account is adopted for the satisfaction of curiosity. It then discusses the conditions of successful reference to the object of curiosity and its presuppositions. The book concludes with a discussion on the limits of curiosity and its satisfaction. (shrink)
It is no longer controversial or suspicious to be curious. But, until recently, there has been little curiosity about curiosity itself. This has begun to change, with the publication of a series of books asking what curiosity is and why it matters. Though an eclectic and slippery subject, taking different forms in different times and places, curiosity has two common threads. The first is ‘care’, comprising commitment or interest and a quality of attention. The second is (...) concerned with ‘questions’, and this highlights the drivers and parameters of enquiry: the mixture of virtue, pleasure and passion that drives explorers to uncover the new. Critical attention to curiosity – examining relations of care that drive curiosity, and drawing attention to the origin and form of questions – speaks to fundamental questions about knowledge: how we come to know the things we know. (shrink)
Beginning with Jacques Derrida’s Beast and the Sovereign, I identify two forms of curiosity: 1) scientific curiosity, which proceeds through objective dissection and 2) therapeutic curiosity, which proceeds through observational confinement. Through an analysis of Derrida’s treatment of both sorts of curiosity, I notice and develop a third, deconstructive form of curiosity. Through repeated turn to the work of Sarah Kofman, I characterize this third curiosity as, by turns, linguistic, animal, and critical. As linguistic, (...) this curiosity is a penchant for wordplay and a keenness for the unsteady reservoirs of signification, resisting any clean dissection of meaning or the confinement of terms. As animal, it tracks a scent, regularly suspending its paw, as if to emphasize the meandering and precarious quality of knowledge. And as critical, it combats the illusions of pure revelation and instead draws attention to the conjuring trick, the systematic substitution of signs, undergirding it. Finally, I consider in what way Derrida’s resistance to philosophy may be read on the grounds not of a singular wonder but of multiple curiosities. (shrink)
The first book of its kind to study the Romantic obsession with the 'antique lands' of Ethiopia, Egypt, India, and Mexico, Curiosity and the Aesthetics of Travel Writing is an important contribution to the recent wave of interest in exotic travel writing. Drawing generously on both original texts and modern scholarship in literature, history, geography, and anthropology, it focuses on the unstable discourse of 'curiosity' to offer an important reformulation of the relations between literature, aesthetics, and colonialism in (...) the period. (shrink)
[Introduction]: Curiosity is now widely regarded, with some justification, as a vital ingredient of the inquiring mind and, more particularly, as a crucial virtue for the practitioner of the pure sciences. We have become accustomed to associate curiosity with innocence and, in its more mature manifestations, with the pursuit of truth for its own sake. It was not always so. The sentiments expressed in Sir John Davies's poem, published on the eve of the seventeenth century, paint a somewhat (...) different picture. To seek knowledge with no particular end in mind was to indulge in "fruitlesse curiositie," while the "desire to know" was associated with those catastrophic events that took place at the dawn of history in the Garden of Eden and with the ensuing curse that fell upon succeeding generations. Davies's poem neatly sets out two of the chief impediments to the advancement of learning in seventeenth-century England: the fact that the Genesis narrative attributes the Fall of the human race to the desire for knowledge, and the moral disapprobation associated with the vice of curiosity. In short, the traditional classification of curiosity amongst the vices and its complicity in the commission of the first sin represented a major obstacle to early modern projects to enlarge human learning. This essay will explore the changing fortunes of curiosity, from its construction as an intellectual vice in the patristic era to its subsequent transformation, over the course of the seventeenth century, to a virtue. Particular attention will be paid to the way in which Francis Bacon dealt with prevailing conceptions of curiosity and forbidden knowledge and how he modified an existing view of the moral legitimacy of knowledge of nature in order to provide rhetorical justification for his proposed instauration of learning. This change in the status of knowledge of nature, initiated by Bacon and promoted by his successors, highlights the morally charged character of early modem debates over the status of natural philosophy and the particular virtues required of its practitioners. As we shall see, the rehabilitation of curiosity was a crucial element in the objectification of scientific knowledge and led to a shift of focus away from the moral qualities of investigators and the propriety of particular objects of knowledge to specific disciplines, procedures, and methods. (shrink)
The decades between 1770 and 1840 are rich in exotic accounts of the ruin-strewn landscapes of Ethiopia, Egypt, India, and Mexico. Yet it is a field which has been neglected by scholars and which - unjustifiably - remains outside the literary canon. In this pioneering book, Nigel Leask studies the Romantic obsession with these 'antique lands', drawing generously on a wide range of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century travel books, as well as on recent scholarship in literature, history, geography, and anthropology. Viewing (...) the texts primarily as literary works rather than 'transparent' adventure stories or documentary sources, he sets out to challenge the tendency in modern academic work to overemphasize the authoritative character of colonial discourse. Instead, he addresses the relationship between narrative, aesthetics, and colonialism through the unstable discourse of antiquarianism, exploring the effects of problems of creditworthiness, and the nebulous epistemologicial claims of 'curiosity', on the contemporary status of travel writing.Attentive to the often divergent idioms of elite and popular exoticism, Curiosity and the Aesthetics of Travel Writing plots the transformation of the travelogue through the period, as the baroque particularism of curiosity was challenged by picturesque aesthetics, systematic 'geographical narrative', and the emergence of a 'transcendental self' axiomatic to Romantic culture. In so doing it offers an important reformulation of the relations between literature, aesthetics, and empire in the late Enlightenment and Romantic periods. (shrink)
Though ignorance is rarely a bliss, awareness of ignorance almost always is. Had we not been able to develop this powerful skill, there would have been no philosophy or science, nor advanced forms of religion, art, and technology. Awareness of ignorance, however, is not a motivator; but when it arouses curiosity that is strong enough, it causes what may be called an “epistemic” desire; a desire to know, to understand, to learn or to gain new experiences, which is a (...) basic motivator for inquiry. This makes the relationship between curiosity and awareness of ignorance all the more important. One can however find very little on this relationship within the philosophical literature. In this essay this is what I wish to explore. After a brief discussion of the question of whether awareness of ignorance is a precondition for curiosity, based on my earlier work I attempt to show that corresponding to the two forms of curiosity that I call “objectual” and “propositional”, there are also two forms of ignorance. This will refute the prejudice that awareness of ignorance must always have propositional content and therefore must always be about truth. I further argue that awareness of ignorance that does have propositional content can be of two different varieties: truth-ignorance versus fact-ignorance. One may simply be ignorant of whether a proposition is true or false ; one may, on the other hand, know that a proposition is true but still be ignorant of the fact that makes it true. I then show that awareness of ignorance, whether it is objectual or propositional, can always be translated into what I shall call awareness of inostensibility. An important moral to be drawn from this discussion is that reaching truth, even when it is coupled with certainty, does not always eliminate one’s ignorance and therefore cannot be the ultimate goal of inquiry. (shrink)
Some researchers claim that uncertainty prolongs the duration of emotional experiences because uncertainty toward an emotion-eliciting event prolongs attention to that event. However, some results contradict this claim. We assumed that curiosity rather than uncertainty prolongs the duration of emotional experience via attention, and that attention and emotional experience are prolonged only when uncertainty elicits curiosity. This assumption is based on the information gap theory, which proposes that curiosity increases with uncertainty, but that curiosity decreases at (...) a certain level of uncertainty. We conducted a survey study to investigate the relationships among curiosity, uncertainty, attention and duration of positive and negative emotional experiences. The results showed that curiosity, but not uncertainty, prolonged the duration of emotional experiences and the process was completely mediated by attention both for positive and negative emotions. Moreover, uncertainty prolonged the duration of emotional experiences only when uncertainty elicited curiosity, which in turn prolonged attention to the emotion-eliciting event. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
The curious philosopher often answers questions by raising further, more fundamental questions. How can this be fruitful and practical in the context of Wageningen University? Philosophy offers critical reflection on conceptual and normative assumptions in science and society, and that is necessary for responsible practices. I illustrate this by analyzing the concept of quality of life – a key value in the mission of our university – and by questioning current debates about responsibility for health.
In this essay, Frederick Schmitt and Reza Lahroodi explore the value of curiosity for inquiry and knowledge. They defend an appetitive account of curiosity, viewing curiosity as a motivationally original desire to know that arises from having one’s attention drawn to the object and that in turn sustains one’s attention to it. Distinguishing curiosity from wonder, the authors explore several sources of the epistemic value of curiosity. First, curiosity is tenacious: curiosity whether a (...) proposition is true leads to curiosity about related issues, thereby deepening our knowledge. Second, it is to some extent biased in favor of topics in which we already have a practical or epistemic interest. Third, and most important, curiosity is largely independent of our interests: it fixes our attention on objects in which we have no antecedent interest, thereby broadening our knowledge. Schmitt and Lahroodi elucidate the value of curiosity by outlining its role in levels of development — an approach indebted to John Dewey’s explanation of the value of curiosity. Finally, they raise some questions about the implications of their account for educational practice. (shrink)
This paper makes a case for the centrality of the passion of curiosity to Hobbes’s account of human nature. Hobbes describes curiosity as one of only a few capacities differentiating human beings from animals, and I argue that it is in fact the fundamen- tal cause of humanity’s uniqueness, generating other important difference-makers such as language, science and politics. I qualify Philip Pettit’s (2008) claim that Hobbes believes language to be the essence of human difference, contending that Pettit (...) grants language too central a place in Hobbes’s psychology. Language is, for Hobbes, a tech- nology adopted on account of curiosity. Further, curiosity is necessary not only for linguistic but also for scientific activity. Only after what he calls original knowledge has been gathered are names employed to generate the conditional propositions that con- stitute science. Finally, curiosity can resolve another puzzle of Hobbesian psychology that Pettit leaves unanswered: our tendency towards strife. Hobbes believes that inso- far as human beings have an implacable hunger for knowledge of the future, we are unable to rest content with present gains and must always aspire to secure the best possible outcome for ourselves. (shrink)
Is philosophy a unique discipline, or are its methods more like those of other sciences than many philosophers think? Timothy Williamson explains clearly and concisely how contemporary philosophers think and work, and reflects on their powers and limitations.
Infants' own activities create and actively select their learning experiences. Here we review recent models of embodied information seeking and curiosity-driven learning and show that these mechanisms have deep implications for development and evolution. We discuss how these mechanisms yield self-organized epigenesis with emergent ordered behavioral and cognitive developmental stages. We describe a robotic experiment that explored the hypothesis that progress in learning, in and for itself, generates intrinsic rewards: The robot learners probabilistically selected experiences according to their potential (...) for reducing uncertainty. In these experiments, curiosity-driven learning led the robot learner to successively discover object affordances and vocal interaction with its peers. We explain how a learning curriculum adapted to the current constraints of the learning system automatically formed, constraining learning and shaping the developmental trajectory. The observed trajectories in the robot experiment share many properties with those in infant development, including a mixture of regularities and diversities in the developmental patterns. Finally, we argue that such emergent developmental structures can guide and constrain evolution, in particular with regard to the origins of language. (shrink)
The paper addresses two fundamental issues in epistemic axiology. It argues primarily that curiosity, in particular its intrinsic variety, is the foundational epistemic virtue since it is the value-bestowing epistemic virtue. A response-dependentist framework is proposed, according to which a cognitive state is epistemically valuable if a normally or ideally curious or inquisitive cognizer would be motivated to reach it. Curiosity is the foundational epistemic virtue, since it bestows epistemic value. It also motivates and organizes other epistemic virtues, (...) so it is foundational and central for epistemology. The second issue is the one of the fundamental bearer of epistemic value. I shall argue that truth is the primary goal, but that mere true belief is not the fundamental bearer. Rather, the bearer is a relatively minimalist kind of knowledge. Mere true belief cannot be rationally accepted in isolation from a supporting structure. However, any efficient supporting structure introduces further epistemic goods, thus upgrading the original true belief. Mere true belief can be neither defended, nor rationally sustained through time, due to isolation. Mere true belief cannot be rationally sustained in the face of a slightest bit of contrary evidence. Therefore, mere true belief is not rationally stable. Minimal knowledge is, and this accounts for the primary and secondary value problem, and for a relatively undemanding kind of tertiary value. (shrink)
A lot has been said about how the notion of reference relates to the notion of knowledge; not much has been said, however, on how the notion of referencerelates to our ability to become aware of what we do not know that allows us to be curious. In this essay I attempt to spell out a certain type of reference I call ‘inostensible’ that I claim to be a fundamental linguistic tool which allows us to become curious of what we (...) do not know. In the first part, I try to explicate the notion of inostensible reference, both for singular and for general terms, as well as full declarative sentences, and in the second part, I argue that our capacity to enjoy conceptual curiosity is essentially based upon our aptitude for inostensible reference. (shrink)
When young children first begin to ask 'why?' they embark on a journey with no final destination. The need to make sense of the world as a whole is an ultimate curiosity that lies at the root of all human religions. It has, in many cultures, shaped and motivated a more down to earth scientific interest in the physical world, which could therefore be described as penultimate curiosity. These two manifestations of curiosity have a history of connection (...) that goes back deep into the human past. Tracing that history all the way from cave painting to quantum physics, this book sets out to explain the nature of the long entanglement between religion and science: the ultimate and the penultimate curiosity. (shrink)
Two recent studies by Joseph Torchia and Paul Griffiths show the importance of Augustine’s critique of the vice of curiositas to contemporary life and thought. Superficially, it might seem that Augustine condemned curiosity because it “seeks to find out whatever it wishes without restriction of any kind.” Though profoundly influenced by Augustine, Bernard Lonergan praised intellectual curiosity precisely insofar as it is motivated by an unrestricted desire to know, rather than by less noble motives. Drawing upon the researches (...) of Torchia and Griffiths, this article endeavors to show that Augustine does not simply equate curiositas with an unrestricted desire to know, and that the virtue of intellectual curiosity as Lonergan understood it is in fact endorsed by Augustine by means of its relationship to the virtue of studiositas. This more nuanced view of the virtues and vices of intellect can provide guidance for contemporary intellectual pursuits, both how to pursue and not to pursue knowledge. (shrink)
Thus the passage is printed in the Teubner edition of Seneca's Dialogues by E. Hermes, who, on the strength of Aen. 8. 702 f. , adds a note on the quotation ‘versus sunt Vergilii a Seneca licenter mutati’. Now the imputation to Seneca of such gross alteration of Virgil can only be supported if we disregard or eject the evidence to the contrary. As only the last five words are actually Virgilian; as Seneca himself says ‘aput vate nostra?’; as out (...) at the beginning of the second line may introduce a second quotation ; and as est, which Gertz secluded, has a part to play if the lines are by different poets, it is safer to take a step backwards and dispose the passage thus. (shrink)
We advance the understanding of the philosophy and psychology of curiosity by operationalizing and constructing an empirical measure of Nietzsche’s conception of inquisitive curiosity, expressed by the German term Wissbegier, (“thirst for knowledge” or “need/impetus to know”) and Neugier (“curiosity” or “inquisitiveness”). First, we show that existing empirical measures of curiosity do not tap the construct of inquisitive curiosity, though they may tap related constructs such as idle curiosity and phenomenological curiosity. Next, we (...) map the concept of inquisitive curiosity and connect it to related concepts, such as open-mindedness and intellectual humility. The bulk of the paper reports four studies: an Anglophone exploratory factor analysis, an Anglophone confirmatory factor analysis, an informant study, and a Germanophone exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis. (shrink)
Our actions and decisions are regularly influenced by the social environment around us. Can social cues be leveraged to induce curiosity and affect subsequent behavior? Across two experiments, we show that curiosity is contagious: The social environment can influence people's curiosity about the answers to scientific questions. Participants were presented with everyday questions about science from a popular on‐line forum, and these were shown with a high or low number of up‐votes as a social cue to popularity. (...) Participants indicated their curiosity about the answers, and they were given an opportunity to reveal a subset of those answers. Participants reported greater curiosity about the answers to questions when the questions were presented with a high (vs. low) number of up‐votes, and they were also more likely to choose to reveal the answers to questions with a high (vs. low) number of up‐votes. These effects were partially mediated by surprise and by the inferred usefulness of knowledge, with a more dramatic effect of low up‐votes in reducing curiosity than of high up‐votes in boosting curiosity. Taken together, these results highlight the important role social information plays in shaping our curiosity. (shrink)
A trailblazing exploration of the political stakes of curiosity. Perry Zurn explores the political philosophy of curiosity—the heartbeat of political resistance and a critical factor in social justice. Drawing on philosophy and political theory as well as feminist theory, race theory, disability studies, and trans studies, he tracks curiosity in the structures of political marginalization and resistance.
In this essay, the resistant potential of curiosity will be first framed by theories of political curiosity writ large (drawn from Friedrich Nietzsche, Michel Foucault, and Jacques Derrida) and then explicated through three case studies: the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s, prison resistance networks in the 1970’s, and a more recent initiative for accessible restrooms. From these archives, an anatomy of politically resistant curiosity will be drawn.
From science and technology to business and education, curiosity is often taken for granted as an unquestioned good. And yet, few people can define curiosity. Curiosity Studies marshals scholars from more than a dozen fields not only to define curiosity but also to grapple with its ethics as well as its role in technological advancement and global citizenship. While intriguing research on curiosity has occurred in numerous disciplines for decades, no rigorously cross-disciplinary study has existed—until (...) now. -/- Curiosity Studies stages an interdisciplinary conversation about what curiosity is and what resources it holds for human and ecological flourishing. These engaging essays are integrated into four clusters: scientific inquiry, educational practice, social relations, and transformative power. By exploring curiosity through the practice of scientific inquiry, the contours of human learning, the stakes of social difference, and the potential of radical imagination, these clusters focus and reinvigorate the study of this universal but slippery phenomenon: the desire to know. -/- Against the assumption that curiosity is neutral, this volume insists that curiosity has a history and a political import and requires precision to define and operationalize. As various fields deepen its analysis, a new ecosystem for knowledge production can flourish, driven by real-world problems and a commitment to solve them in collaboration. By paying particular attention to pedagogy throughout, Curiosity Studies equips us to live critically and creatively in what might be called our new Age of Curiosity. (shrink)