Curiosity: ‘a strong desire to know or learn something‘
Syn: inquiring, concern, interest
A curiosity: ‘an unusual object or fact‘
Syn: peculiarity, oddity, idiosyncrasy
It is human nature to be curious, often over things that in the outcome do us no favor; we pour over useless information that we surely forget as quickly as we wished to know it. Some may blame it for our age of wandering attention, too much distraction and lack of focus; others however argue that it is the driving force of all humans, the thing that keeps pushing us forward thanks to the endless stream of questions that rattle from our heads out of our mouths.
It is down to our biology, our curiosity is on the flip side the defense against uncertainty and the unknown. It is the human’s shield and weapon to conquer the greatest fear we possess; which is fear of anything that we do not understand or that is new or different to the environment we are acclimatized to. Curiosity is the motivation of the human to learn and turn such object or event safe and into something that they recognize and possess knowledge over so that they can move on and ignore it, making it background scenery to their everyday lives and functioning.
Curiosity in recognized in psychology and science as a key human trait that can be explained as an evolutionary theory behavior called Neoteny. Neoteny means the “retention of juvenile characteristics”. Humans are more childlike than any other mammal this is demonstrated in our physical appearance compared to other creatures, for example, our hairless bodies and large head sizes relative to the proportions of our remaining features.
This means we have an extended childhood in which we absorb from our environment, we explore and in our fascination we ponder and question and then yet again are led down the repeating cycle of question, exploration and retention. Though the process may seem somewhat repetitive and in some cases unnecessary often the information to which we apply such a complex and time consuming process is nothing of consequence. But it is not what we absorb that of the greatest value; sure thanks to curiosity we have made great advances in science, technology, language and industry. but its other greatest achievement is simply that is has kept us moving. By continuously seeking new information we invite great bundles of change into our life which never allows us to pause for too long or get stuck in a rut. Curiosity is the greatest survival instinct the human mind possesses – it tells us to grow, it tells us to seek and it tells us to push on, keep moving and to not look back or stand still for too long.
Curiosity for this purpose is the creative individual’s best friend, for it is through discontent and yearning for logic, reason and understanding that we are pushed to experience the world and document these experiences and our responses. Curiosity keeps our light bright, it is the wicker of learning, a candle without a wick would have long ago ceased to exist.