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Re: In praise of curiosity

by chromatic (Archbishop)
on Jul 27, 2003 at 21:22 UTC ( #278279=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to In praise of curiosity

As DeMarco notes, in Christian countries, curiosity is believed to be the mother of all vices, and people are encouraged to stick to the corpus of knowledge that has been officially blessed by some authority, be it the Church, the government or some academic big shot. Individual deviation from the universal laws of science is frown upon, and the ones who practice such unorthodoxy are fingered as "nosy."

Sorry, I studied a bit of history and am going to need lots more references for this. If you want to suggest that Roman Catholicism clamped down on science and discovery around the time of the Enlightenment, that's one thing, but DeMarco's painting with a *really* broad brush.

You could make the same argument better without such a questionable interpretation.


Comment on Re: In praise of curiosity
Re: Re: In praise of curiosity
by gmax (Abbot) on Jul 27, 2003 at 22:28 UTC

    I apologize for sounding too dogmatic. It was not what I was aiming at. I wasn't trying at teach history, but I was referring at the general acceptance of curiosity as a "bad thing," which is so deeply radicated inside our language that even in everyday speaking we refer to it in a negative way.

    • Curiosity killed the cat -- excessive curiosity can lead one into trouble. A common rebuke by mothers to their offspring
      -- The Penguin Dictionary of English Idioms
    • Too much curiosity lost Paradise
      It doesn't do to be too curious or inquisitive
      -- The MacMillan Dictionary of English Proverbs Explained
    • Curiosity killed the cat -- informal Getting too nosy may lead a person into trouble
      -- Barrons Handbook of Commonly Used American Idioms

    See also, in the same vein, Why does curiosity kill?, where there are also some more interesting quotes:

    • The “Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings” (1996) by Gregory Titelman states: “An overly inquisitive person is likely to get hurt."
    • Saint Augustine recorded in ‘Confessions’ (397) the story of a curious soul who wondered what God did in the eons before creating heaven and earth. ‘He fashioned hell for the inquisitive,’
    • in the nineteenth century, Lord Byron in ‘Don Juan’ (1818) roundly condemned the curious with ‘I loathe that low vice curiosity.’

    Please notice that it's not my intention to throw mud at the Church or any other authority. I am just commenting on the social aspect of this concept.

     _  _ _  _  
    (_|| | |(_|><
     _|   
    

      If it's quotations you're after:

      "Disinterested intellectual curiosity is the life-blood of real civilisation"
      - G. M. Trevelyan

      "A generous and elevated mind is distinguished by nothing more certainly than an eminent degree of curiosity
      - Samuel Johnson

      And, if we want to get all Biblical:

      "Be not ignorant of any thing in a great matter or a small"
      - Ecclesiasticus chapter 5, verse 15.

      (and me an atheist too :-)

      I'm afraid the religious overtones turned me off of reading an otherwise apparently well thought out node.
      Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
      — Acts 17:11
      Questioning and researching is an integral part of faith according to the bible.

      Makeshifts last the longest.

        Howdy!

        Questioning and researching is an integral part of faith according to the bible.

        Amen!

        ...of course, if you don't accept my interpretation, I'll have to condemn you... :)

        yours,
        Michael

Re^2: In praise of curiosity
by adrianh (Chancellor) on Jul 27, 2003 at 22:34 UTC
    You could make the same argument better without such a questionable interpretation

    I agree but, to be fair, all DeMarco says is:

    In spite of years of parochial schooling, I have come away with a view of the creation story that differs somewhat from what the nuns must have hoped. In my view, the great heroic figure of the story is Eve. She is everything that I respect in a person: irrepressibly curious, courageous, undaunted by authority. Most of all, she is intent upon personal growth, determined to fulfill not just some but all of her promise.

    Remember the story of her "fall." She was told that she might eat of everything in the garden except one thing: She could not eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The fruit of this tree was not food at all, but understanding. if she ate it, she would know things that she was not intended to know, hence the proscription.

    Eve's response to this rule was, essentially, "No way, José." She was not about to allow her growth as a person to be so limited, She ate the fruit and took the consequences. I hope I would have been so brave in her place.

    No generalisations about Christianity made.

Re: Re: In praise of curiosity
by husker (Chaplain) on Jul 30, 2003 at 18:44 UTC
    Indeed. Nowhere in scripture is curiosity painted as a "vice". Curiosity is often the precursor to personal discovery, and Christians are instructed by Paul to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling", which was Paul's way of saying that your own salvation experience will be different than someone else's ... the Church cannot and should not dictate to believers what salvation "feels like".

    However, Christians are also admonished to obey the authorities which are placed over them, since no one comes into authority except by the will of Christ (yes, that includes Hussein and Hitler and Nero and all the rest ... )

    Here one must make the distinction between "curiosity" and "rebellion".

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