“Civilization, in many ways, is the safe cultivation of dangerous curiosity. The sophistication of a civilization may be judged by the kinds of dangerous questions its members allow themselves to ask.”
Posts tagged curiosity
Over the centuries, the illusion of mastering time through obedience to it came into acceptance. Across Europe, the medieval monastery’s bell tolled as a reminder to eat, sleep and pray. But while there must have been some soul’s release in relinquishing earthly sovereignty to that sound, as the clock’s authority spread, we sealed all the gaps through which curiosity might seep into our days. Curiosity, after all, could lure the susceptible way off track, as the Italian poet Petrarch learned in the spring of 1336, when he famously climbed Mont Ventoux, motivated by “nothing but the desire to see its conspicuous height.” One of the texts he carried along was Saint Augustine’s “Confessions,” detailing the moral dangers of such expeditions, when men “go out to admire the mountains,” or the course of the stars, and therein forget themselves. Chastened, Petrarch made his descent in silence.
Curiosity does not seem to be a fundamental drive, unlike what I am told are the three basic biological drives (seeking pleasure, avoiding pain and conserving energy), so it is probably derived. Curiosity requires a certain energy surplus, since its visible signature is a restless dissipation of energy, but it does not seem directly motivated by energy conservation concerns. So is it derived from pleasure-seeking or pain-avoidance or some mix of the two? Does that make a difference?
Preliminary version of Curiosity sol 2 360-degree Navcam panorama, polar projection (via http://www.planetary.org/blogs/emily-lakdawalla/2012/08082211-curiosity-sol-2-navcam-full-frame-mardi.html)
Curiosity’s heat shield falling toward Mars (via http://www.planetary.org/blogs/emily-lakdawalla/2012/08072140-msl-mardi-first-full-res.html)