Hmmm, curious indeed. Not too many members, it would seem, are all that curious about curiosity. Even the one reply this thread got indicated that
their curiosity was not compelling enough to investigate further than entering the thread and reading my O.P. Perhaps the curiosity was less a desire
to know, and more a desire to have answers. Or, perhaps in the end, curiosity doesn't deserve much more than a cursory mention, a simple nod, and it
is best when taken for granted.
Curiously, I tend to believe that curiosity merits much more investigation and discussion than this thread would indicate. After all, didn't most of
the members in this site find this site out of curiosity, and didn't most join out of a need to satiate curiosity?
Here's the deal, it strikes me that curiosity has an undeserved bad reputation. Perhaps it is all the fault of William Shakespeare and his friend Ben
Johnson, Johnson being the first to introduce the notion of a cat being killed because of curiosity, or as he and Shakespeare put it; "care".
...Helter skelter, hang sorrow, care will kill a cat, up-tails all, and a pox on the hangman.
- Every Man in his Humor
, Ben Johnson -
What, courage man! what though care killed a cat, thou hast mettle enough in thee to kill care.
Much Ado About Nothing
, William Shakespeare -
However, and curiously so, "care" in this instance is defined as "worry" or "sorrow", which is entirely different than saying curiosity killed the
cat. Isn't it curious then that Johnson and Shakespeare would be credited with the origin of this proverb?
Maybe not so curious since the etymology of the word
leads us back to its Latin root of
Curiosus, which means careful, diligent, inquiring eagerly, and meddlesome, but "care" in this sense is less "worry" or "sorrow" and more...well,
"careful". According to Wikipedia, the proverb of curiosity killing the cat means to mind your own business, as in don't be nosy and do not get
involved in unnecessary affairs that could lead to harm. What is curious is that the proverb, at least according to the Wikipedia article, remained
pretty much the same until around 1898, then it seemed to evolve into what it has come to mean today.
What is even curiouser, is why a proverb that seems to warn against "care" as in "worry" or "sorrow" would use a cat as its example. It seems to me
that cats are not much for worrying, although they may be inclined towards sorrow, I don't really know as I am not much of a cat person. Cat's are,
however, quite curious creatures. As that artist who was for a while the artist formerly known as Prince, and is now again, as he was when he wrote
When Doves Cry
, said; "Animals strike curious poses". It appears that many animals are indeed quite curious, but even though this is a shared
commonality between living beings, apparently curiosity is not an instinct
because it is not a
fixed action pattern
For this reason, curiosity is labeled as an emotion. Yet, and curiously so, that state of curiosity seems to trigger many different kinds of
emotions. As I alluded to in the O.P. the desire of a woman is borne of a certain curiosity, but that desire feels different - remarkably so - than
the curiosity of the meaning of a word. The word curious is often used in terms of sexual experimentation, and for people who are wondering what
their sexual preferences are, they might be bi-curious
, which implies that the emotions behind this
type of curiosity are borne of a desire more akin to lust than they are akin to a general need to know. One could be curious about bisexuality in an
intellectual sense, but somehow when porn sites and magazines are advertising with the tag line "bi-curious?", I don't think they are appealing to an
intellectual need to know, and are instead appealing to a physical desire much stronger than passing curiosity.
Further, and curious still, is the proclivity for all animals to explore, but is exploration necessarily borne out of curiosity? The need for space
and food often leads to exploration, but should we accept that this desire for new places and food is a part of the curious nature, or is that
something much more physical in innate to the body we inhabit, which brings up an even more curious notion; are we just our body's and nothing more?
Does every emotion we feel, and every thought we have stem from the physiology of our body, or is there another aspect to "us" that is separate from
In fact, Wikipedia, when discussing curiosity, asserts that "in fact", that curiosity that develops into wonder or admiration, it is curiosity that
compels people to become an expert in a field of knowledge. The curious thing about this assertion is that becoming an expert in a field of knowledge
requires a steady discipline that seemingly outlasts any emotional state. Emotional states are transient, even fickle, but the desire to become
expert at knowledge is not so transient, and not nearly as fickle as any given emotion. So, once again, we come back to the question of emotion, and
what such a thing is.
are often labeled an emotion,
although, and curiously so, while Wikipedia declares Love an emotion, they seem to avoid labeling Happiness as an emotion, but is Love an emotion?
While we have come, all too often in my opinion, to define Love as affection for another person, it seems that Love is much more than this. As
parents, we do not always feel affection for our children, but for most of us, we always Love them. We always have a strong personal attachment to
them, even when we are not feeling affection for them. The same goes for our spouses or mates. We do not always feel affection for them, but if we
Love them, we weather through the periods of non-affection, at least those who define Love to be more than just a simple emotion. If emotions are
transient states, and I am inclined to believe they are, then Love must be something more than just emotion.
The curious thing about emotion is that it seems to be poorly defined.
To simplify it down to
"any strong feeling" seems to be a great disservice to the state of emotions, and the more complex definition, being a mental state that arises
spontaneously rather than through conscious effort...well, seems to also miss the mark on what emotions really are. Indeed, defining it as a mental
state implies that the emotion stems from thought first, and thought
is generally considered to be
an intellectual pursuit using reason, although not all thoughts are backed by reason, and indeed, and I suppose curiously so, thoughts can often times
be products of our emotions.
How curious it is that a curiosity about the nature of curiosity would lead to a desire to better understand emotions and thought, and if possible to
delineate between the two. This curiosity about curiosity is given a label as well, and it is called "meta curiosity", and it gets so curious that a
label is placed upon the action of entering into this thread and taking the time to read all this wondering about wonder, all this curiosity about
curiosity as being "meta-meta-curiosity"! How curious is that? We can be curious, and we can be "meta-curious" and we can even be
"meta-meta-curious", which again, seems to imply that curiosity is much much more than just an emotion.
Even more curious is that it appears as if our lexicon is, to some degree, a poisoned well. If the etymology of the word curious leads us to the
Latin word curiosus, which means to take great care, as in being careful to be diligent, or to be meddlesome, this doesn't explain such curious states
as "bi-curious" or "sexually curious", or curious about certain substances such as drugs. One who tries out an illicit drug out of curiosity is not
being careful even if they may be diligent in their usage of the drug, and often times when one succumbs to a sexual desire, being careful is not a
high priority. Neither trying out an illicit drug, or trying sex for the first time, or a new sexual experience for the first time is particularly
meddlesome, although these actions tend to invite meddling from others. It seems that the Latin usage of the word was much more precise than how it
has come to be used today.
The poisoning of the well of lexicography seems to imply a lack of curiosity. Indeed, most of the time when we are introduced to a new word it is in
the course of a conversation, or reading, but it is rare that we will make the time to look up the word to make sure we have a "proper" definition of
it, and instead tend to contextually define the word. This becomes problematic, and many of us discover this problem when the day arrives where our
contextual definition of a word is contradicted by the actual definition of the word, which means we have been using and understanding the word as
something different than what it actually means. Perhaps this is how words become diluted and bastardized. A dictionary defines words as they are
used in the everyday sense of the meaning, even if dictionaries will provide etymology and archaic usages as well. Lexicographers seem less concerned
with how correct the usage of a word is, regarding its original meaning, and more concerned with what that word means today. Thus, if a word such as
curiosity began by meaning careful diligent inquiry, or a meddlesome inquiry but now means that as well as other forms of desire, then the more
precise definition becomes diluted and simplified down to "a desire to know".
However, when defined as "a desire to know", and when the proverbial cat goes from being killed by "care" to being killed by "curiosity", then we
understand this to mean the "desire to know" comes with great peril. It is interesting to note, and curious still, that the Wikipedia article
regarding "curiosity killed the cat" claims that the origin of the modern variation - that proverb that warns against a desire to know - is unknown.
Even so, that article offers:
The earliest known printed reference to the actual phrase is found in the 1902 edition of Proverbs Maxims and Phrases, by John Hendricks Bechtel.
On page 100, the phrase "Curiosity killed the cat" is the lone entry under the topical heading Curiosity.
The lone entry in a book of proverbs and maxims regarding curiosity is the grave warning that "curiosity killed the cat". Hmmm, curios indeed. This
brings me back to why I started this thread, that was borne of a curiosity to know why a proverb was created to warn against curiosity, and as you may
be wondering, what this has to do with a conspiracy site. I couldn't help but wonder if there has been a conspiracy against the word curiosity in
order to keep people from learning too much. While the Wikipedia article I keep referencing seems to think that it was just a natural evolution form
"care" killed the cat, to "curiosity" killed the cat, and indeed, it makes much more sense that curiosity would kill a cat than it does that care
would do so. However, further inquiry into the curious case of curiosity and on the origins of the proverbial cat killed by curiosity, there is
that, while it echoes much of what Wikipedia offered, it
also goes further back than Johnson and Shakespeare for its origin suggesting that its roots might be found as far back as AD 397:
Curiosity hasn't received a good press over the centuries. Saint Augustine wrote in Confessions, AD 397, that, in the eons before creating heaven
and earth, God "fashioned hell for the inquisitive". John Clarke, in Paroemiologia, 1639 suggested that "He that pryeth into every cloud may be struck
with a thunderbolt". In Don Juan, Lord Byron called curiosity "that low vice". That bad opinion, and the fact that cats are notoriously inquisitive,
lead to the source of their demise being changed from 'care' to 'curiosity'.
Curious, isn't it, that a Catholic such as St. Augustine would assert that inquisitiveness is less than holy, only to see the Catholic Church years
later develop what became known as The Inquisition. Even curiouser is the fact that the very prolific St Augustine often engaged in inquiry, and even
encouraged us to inquire. It does, however, make sense that the Catholic Church would engage in a campaign against the nature of inquisitiveness.
Was there a conspiracy by the Catholic Church to slander curiosity so that it may become perceived that only the sinful and wicked are curious?
Of course, "curiosity killed the cat" could just be an easy way of parenting. A form of expedience. Children can be very, very curious, and most
parents know just how difficult it can be keeping a watchful eye on their children 24/7, but the fear of what a child might do, even when in the
presence of the parent is most assuredly a 24/7 fear. Their curiosity can lead to dire consequences if they are not properly monitored, so perhaps
the proverb came about as a means of discouraging a natural state that might lead to harm a parent would never wish upon any of their children.
What makes me curious about this though, is if it is merely a parenting tool intended to keep children from harm, does suppressing curiosity cause
more harm than the risk of unattended curiosity? Indeed, can curiosity be suppressed? Perhaps it can be, and it sometimes seem that the general
laziness of people unwilling to verify facts, clear definitions, and find the source of references stems from a suppressed curiosity...or maybe its
just laziness. I wonder...
While I hope this recent installment of mine in this thread has done more to explain why I think this thread is important, I suspect it only brings up
more questions than it does answer. Why I think the curious case of curiosity is important is because I also suspect that curiosity is not at all an
emotion - and by emotion I mean the physical feelings we experience - but is more a state of mind. I tend to believe there is a difference between an
emotional state, and a state of mind, as nuanced as that difference may be. Certainly an emotional state, can and does create a state of mind, and
conversely a state of mind, can and does create an emotional state, and yet, they are two different aspects of who we are.
It is my contention that a state of mind is less about our physical body, and more what would be a spiritual state of mind. Of course, we can take
state of mind and break it down into several different states of mind, one of them being a spiritual state of mind, but this only adds to the
confusion. I also suspect that emotions themselves may be something more than just a physiological phenomenon, and that our spirits can experience
emotions as well. These are merely postulates, not even yet hypothesis', and certainly not theory. Just creeping suspicions that there is more
between Heaven and Hell that is dreamt of in my philosophy, and certainly much, much more than meets the eye.
This is what has me so curious about curiosity, and why I think that curiosity, as a state, or phenomenon, deserves more attention than it gets. In
terms of education and media, curiosity tends to carry a bad reputation, and with this thread, perhaps I will have accomplished nothing more than
adding to the burial of curiosity, but curiously, I come not to bury curiosity, but to praise it.
edit on 8-2-2011 by Jean Paul Zodeaux
because: (no reason given)