The Epistemic Value of Curiosity



In this essay, Frederick Schmitt and Reza Lahroodi explore the value of curiosity for inquiry and knowledge. They defend an appetitive account of curiosity, viewing curiosity as a motivationally original desire to know that arises from having one’s attention drawn to the object and that in turn sustains one’s attention to it. Distinguishing curiosity from wonder, the authors explore several sources of the epistemic value of curiosity. First, curiosity is tenacious: curiosity whether a proposition is true leads to curiosity about related issues, thereby deepening our knowledge.  Second, it is to some extent biased in favor of topics in which we already have a practical or epistemic interest. Third, and most important, curiosity is largely independent of our interests: it fixes our attention on objects in which we have no antecedent interest, thereby broadening our knowledge. Schmitt and Lahroodi elucidate the value of curiosity by outlining its role in levels of development — an approach indebted to John Dewey’s explanation of the value of curiosity. Finally, they raise some questions about the implications of their account for educational practice.

About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
This entry was posted in Curiosity, Curiosity-based learning, Inquiry, Inquiry-based learning, Knowing, Knowledge, Learning, Science and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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