All We Want To Know Is Everything
Curiosity is recognized as a motive that influences human behavior in both positive and negative ways throughout all stages of the life cycle. Undoubtedly, it is the foremost momentum behind scientific discovery, literature and art. Moreover, the heart of curiosity is a sense of wonder, which is often channeled through religious or spiritual endeavors and worship. The theory of evolution draws the distinction between humans and other species as a matter of degree, not kind. Opposed to animals, human curiosity transcends the sole function of survival. Instead we question our purpose on Earth, an impractical concern, all in the pursuit of enlightenment. Curiosity poses a theoretical riddle, why are humans so attracted to information that confers no extrinsic benefit? It is no mystery that this realm of curiosity is permitted through our superior rational awareness, but what is its purpose? It seems the more we discover through scientific advancement, the less we really know. Once concrete belief systems are deteriorating rapidly even when many struggle to stay blissfully ignorant. Why is the human race cursed with such a paradox? Furthermore, what is this form of curiosity’s intent if not to survive? Curiosity is defined by Hans-Georg Voss as "a motivational tendency to reduce subjective uncertainty by generating meaning." Some researchers insist the most outstanding incentive to reduce uncertainty is fear. With this in mind, those who do not respond to uncertainty with curiosity remain ignorant and susceptible to the unrelenting process of Darwin’s natural selection. However, functionalists such as James William and McDoagall argue that curiosity stems from the desire to analyze surrounding environments, whereas fear is the emotion brought on by the conscious risks of such exploration. To illustrate the interrelation of fear and curiosity, James cited the behavior of an alligator gradually swimming towards a man sitting on the beach. It only proceeded to approach the man when he kept still, pulling back frantically whenever the man made a movement. McDoagall describes a horse displaying almost identical behavior concluding that curiosity is a basic instinct balanced by fear. Freud parallels curiosity with sex drive. He believes it arises through early sexual voyaging that occurs between three and five years of age. A child associates pleasure induced by genital manipulation as a positive outcome of engaging in his or her curious impulses. Thus reinforcing the theory that curiosity is a primary drive, an instinctual sensation of arousal that is only satisfied by exploratory behavior. If not adequately repressed by fear, this arousal has the capacity for dire consequences. Though, a healthy sexual craving can manifest into a higher curiosity directed at the wonders of the world. Freud deems this to be the “rarest and most perfect” kind of sublimation. The majority of commentary on happiness refers to seeking. Jaak Panksepp, provides evidence that emotion comes from regions in the brain developed very early in our evolution, therefore, our sense of wellbeing is shared with lesser mammal. All emotions, including curiosity, apply to a “seeking system”. The defining feature is that curiosity and other emotions in the “seeking system” produces and unpleasant sensation, often labeled as stimulation, which is only subdued by exploring. According to Panksepp, “In humans, it stands to reason, when we fail to seek to live, in no small measure because our culture allows our needs to be met passively, we diminish our own happiness.” This is contrary to early discussions of curiosity, conducted by philosophers and religious figures, which concentrated exclusively on the moral aspect of curiosity rather then its psychological function. Saint Augustine described curiosity as “a certain vain and curious longing for knowledge.” He was supported by parables that constructed negative connotations correlated...
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