Thursday, March 9, 2017

Curiosity

Could we not perhaps define dogmatism as the loss of curiosity combined with strong beliefs?  Could we not define it as simple ideas applied to all situations indifferently, which is to say disconnectedly and in a decontextualized manner?

The longer I live, the more I see curiosity as the precursor of all other virtues.  You can infer much of what you would need to know practically about a person by knowing if they are curious and regularly learning, or if they spend all their time shouting out loud what they already "know".  Likewise with cultural orders.  Curious societies have to be free societies, and societies filled with curious people continually discover things.  This is likely the principal cultural advantage of the Israelis, and the main cultural disadvantage of all Muslims.

Larger curiosity we term mystery.  Ponder the term "religious mystery".  Then ponder the feelings evoked by the phrase "the mystery of. . .".  For me, it evokes the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew.  What is a mystery?  Something unexplained, perhaps unexplainable, but fascinating and fluctuating in our imaginations.  It is the sense of a train whistle and the nostalgia for distant lands brought into being in front of us, emotionally.  What do we make of it?  Do we need to make anything of it?

Mysteries frighten many people.  This is why they seek from life simple and simplistic explanations, which they cling to even if they are wrong.

But curious people are attracted to mysteries, even ones they can't explain.

Within the last day I saw some supposedly intellectually competent scientist say something like "if it existed we would know about it.  Since we don't know about it, it must not exist."  Much of our world is governed intellectually by such people.

Curiosity does not tell you where you are going when it takes you on a journey.  It merely shows you the next step, and its only promise is of a journey somewhere new.


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