Curiosity

Curiosity

[kyoor-ee-os-i-tee]
Curiosity is an emotion that causes natural inquisitive behaviour such as exploration, investigation, and learning, evident by observation in many animal and human species. The term can also be used to denote the behavior itself being caused by the emotion of curiosity. Curiosity is the fuel of science.

Causes

Although curiosity is an innate capability of many living beings, it cannot be subsumed under category of instinct because it lacks the quality of fixed action pattern; it is rather one of innate basic emotions because it can be expressed in many flexible ways while instinct is always expressed in a fixed way.

Curiosity is common to human beings at all ages from infancy to old age, and is easy to observe in many other animal species. These include apes, cats, fish, reptiles, and insects; as well as many others. Many aspects of exploration are shared among all beings, as all known terrestrial beings share similar aspects: limited size and a need to seek out food sources.

Strong curiosity is the main motivation of many scientists. In fact, in its development as wonder or admiration, it is generally curiosity that makes a human being want to become an expert in a field of knowledge.

Many historical figures were affected strongly by curiosity, to explore lands unknown to them, for example, Columbus, Balboa, Magellan, Coronado, Sir Francis Drake, etc.

Abstract curiosity

Though humans are sometimes considered particularly very curious, they sometimes seem to miss the obvious when compared to other animals. What seems to happen is that human curiosity about curiosity itself (i.e. meta-curiosity or meta-interest), combined with the ability to think in an abstract way, lead to mimesis, fantasy and imagination - eventually leading to an especially human way of thinking ("human reason"), which is abstract and self aware, or conscious.

Morbid curiosity

A morbid curiosity is an example of addictive curiosity the object of which are death and horrible violence or any other event that may hurt you physically or emotionally (see also: snuff film), the addictive emotion being explainable by meta-emotions exercising pressure on the spontaneous curiosity itself.

In a milder form, however, this can be understood as a cathartic form of behavior or as something instinctive within humans. According to Aristotle, in his Poetics we even "enjoy contemplating the most precise images of things whose sight is painful to us." (This aspect of our nature is often referred to as the 'Car Crash Syndrome' or 'Trainwreck Syndrome', derived from the notorious supposed inability of passersby to ignore such accidents.)

See also

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