Curiosity: Exploration, Novelty, And Risk

In a famous quote Edmund Burke states ” The first and simplest emotion which we discover in the mind, is curiosity.” This is profound for a couple reasons; one, it was written in 18th Century Dublin but curiosity is not something we often refer to as an emotion. Secondly it is curious that curiosity would be found so early in the mind but it makes total sense.

If you are a cause and effect type of person you could say that beneath every action is some core, perhaps subconscious, motivating factor. It could be argued that curiosity is an instinct that helps us find food. It is the thing that makes us look under a rock for some worms, or maybe water. We can’t fully describe how it works but we know it is what has kept us moving since the beginning of time.

Curiosity, might have been the thing that helped us find food in the early days or even find water but now it has become something else. It is a source of inspiration and motivation for us to explore our planet, ourselves, and even outer space for seemingly unknown reasons. As a race, we are always looking for answers. Even when we find some answers we go out searching for more.

But some of us have lost our curiosity, we have decided to stop looking for answers, and exploring. What are the things that keep us from being curious? Some claim fear and pain could be reasons for holding us back. If we’ve gone out searching and had a negative experience it can keep us from doing so again. This fear can stifle our curiosity and paralyze us.

On the other side of things we have to ask if the cause and effect relationship, the search for food or other value, what really causes us to be curious. Perhaps it is a part of us that seeks novelty whether or not we deem the experience as potentially positive or not. It could be that what we seek is simply stimulation without claim on whether it is positive or negative. So we traverse our environment moving towards the things we do not understand.

We see this in some people and cultures, a link to bravery and courage, but also recklessness. The climbing of mount Everest is an example of something we’ve done only to see if we could. Through preparation we find that it will not be a pleasant experience, and the risk is our very lives, but there are still individuals that try.

When applied to knowledge and creativity, what influences the student or the artist to continue to explore? Is it the hope of prestige or something more innate.

I would claim that curiosity is the feeling that compels us to seek, with absence of incentive or pressure. This means that it compels us to move before we’ve formed a conscious expectation of what we will find. It is the direction we walk when we’re on afternoon stroll, and the things we ponder in our daydreams.

This force leads us subtly towards what becomes desire, and later personal will. All through August we will combing through the nature of this force and all of the above.

Follow us along the yellow brick road and see if we make it to Never Never Land.




Maceo Paisley


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