The Privilege Of Curiosity

The differences between science and religion are often argued. Each attempts to explain, observe, and reveal insight about our reality and universe. The solutions posed are as varied as the people that propose them but beneath them both is a desire to seek a broader understanding about our existence. Investigation is not a uniquely human ability nor is our curios nature isolated to us. Yet, in no other species is the quest for understanding so rich as it is in the human heart and still varies greatly with in us as individuals. Those that are curious seek greater understanding and undoubtedly find it through study, experiment or observation. Each of us as infants are curious but this wanes as we become adults and so it must be acknowledged that the benefit of curiosity is an appetite and capacity for understanding that does not persist equally in us all. Without legitimate interest in understanding, full comprehension is un achievable.

Christian theologian Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) explains the soul as having a sort of pain , ” that which is in hunger or thirst.” Which he goes on to state, ” if the Soul had never experienced that food or drink remove that pain, it would create no appetite to anything.” Here is describing appetite almost as an itch,that needs to be scratched having a previous state of satisfaction to reference the absence of it motivates us to try and  return to it. Under this theory, we can only have an appetite for things we have experienced before. This makes perfect sense from the creationist standpoint right? It would mean that we are from a particular source, and our spiritual appetite is motivated buy the desire to join with that source again. This view presupposes we have a soul and, without that fundamental component the theory is flat.

Looking to science for an explanation of curiosity though, we do find some parallels in explanation but drawn from a different fundamental point.  In 1865 Claude Bernard described the process of homeostasis. Medically this is the process by which the body maintained equilibrium internally. Each of our bodily functions is self-governing as a product of our brain and cellular instructions. So physically when you have an appetite it is a signal for food triggered in your brain as a part of your bodies homeostatic process. It is an internal condition that stimulates appetite for maintenance as opposed to a return to a state it was in before. This appetite is natural but very simple. It triggers appetite for food in general but does not dictate which specific type of food necessarily this does not address cravings, desire or taste.

Hindu offers a hedonist view to resolve this question of appetite. The Path of Desire, has along it pleasure and an exploration is required to reveal this pleasure. This is not the final stage on our journey under the teachings of Hindu but it is a necessary place to pass through. Here we are guided by the Path of Desire to find pleasure for ourselves. Think of it as the lobby of a building with many more floors and rooms, but a room that must be passed through to reveal the others. Our drive here is not motivated by appetite or balance but a divine path.

In these cases and many more we recognize that this drive is not unshakeable. We are often distracted by the simple realities of our social world. These distractions keep us from servicing our appetite, maintaining homeostasis, and staying on our divine path. For some, it is easier to stay curious, and driven, undistracted by what is happening just in front of us in pursuit of what is beyond it. This makes salvation, education, and enlightenment, much easier. By acknowledging that this ability is not evenly present in all man, but in some cases particularly a special trait we see that those exceptionally curious have great advantage in pursuit of any form of satisfaction or success.

It could be argued that resilient curiosity is born into us but there is evidence to support the idea that our investigative drive lives or dies by circumstance. If it is something that must be protected to survive, who’s job is it to protect it? If it is something that lives within us, then why does it not drive us all with equal intensity? This appetite is what drives interests in our minds, to pursue knowledge,as well as in our hearts to pursue companionship, and in our spirit to pursue enlightenment. It is not only of interest in general but identifying which interests are paramount, and who is to say which satisfactions are of higher merit than the person in pursuit of them? The implications span through out our lives, so which of all the things we can do, should we do?

Religion  and science seeks to answer these questions as well. Sometimes with various types of faith, and also with economics, and morality. Regardless of motive or intent, observing various places in our lives where we are drawn to acquire greater understanding we should seek also to protect that impulse from distraction, or catalyze the impulse to proceed through it. We must also observe a lack of curiosity and seek to excite that feeling through reference or exploration, this is the function of inspiration. Inevitably, with enough time, every impulse will be satisfied, or the impulse it self will be deterred from or changed. Conversely, in time, every appetite will return, or the life itself will cease to be.





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