Curiosity and pleasure

Brady, M. S. (2018) Curiosity and pleasure. In: Inan, I., Watson, L., Whitcomb, D. and Yigit, S. (eds.) The Moral Psychology of Curiosity. Series: Moral psychology of the emotions. Roman & Littlefield: London, pp. 183-196. ISBN 9781786606716

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It is a commonplace that natural or intellectual curiosity is valuable: it is encouraged in children, esteemed in scientists, protected in academia. But this view might seem problematic, since curiosity doesn’t seem to be directed to anything of particular importance or significance. Indeed, there are good reasons to think that the questions or subjects that trigger curiosity are not themselves ones that it is intrinsically valuable for us to answer or understand. If so, we might wonder whether curiosity ought to be regarded as valuable. In this paper I want to resolve this problem by invoking an analogy between curiosity and pleasure. An examination of the nature of pleasure suggests that it too consists in a desire for something that it is not, in itself, intrinsically valuable, and the achievement of which does not, by itself, constitute an important goal. Nevertheless, pleasure is (rightly) regarded as intrinsically valuable, and the desires that partly constitute pleasure are ones that it makes sense for us to have. And what is true of pleasure is also true of curiosity – or so, at least, I want to argue.

Item Type:Book Sections
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Brady, Professor Michael
Authors: Brady, M. S.
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities > Philosophy
Publisher:Roman & Littlefield
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 The Author
First Published:First published in The Moral Psychology of Curiosity: 183-196
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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