Looking forward to Robin Ince’s Voltaire Lecture for the British Humanist Association this evening on ‘The Importance of Being Interested’ – Natalie Haynes’ last year was brilliant.

I have no idea what he is going to say but curiosity is one of my favourite virtues and being interested in a characteristic we can all cultivate. It increases our pleasure in living through the joy of finding things out, it is a mark of an admirable intellectual exuberance and it helps us find ways to make the world a better place. It’s a classic humanist virtue so here are some classic humanist thoughts on curiosity, being interested and finding things out.

Blessed is he who learns how to engage in inquiry, with no impulse to harm his countrymen or pursue wrongful actions, but perceives the order of immortal nature, how it is structured.

Euripides, 400s BCE (via Charles Freeman)

I appeal to you to be rational, critical, inspired with the spirit of enquiry. Don’t take things simply for granted. If you do not have the courage to revolt against authority outright, then at least go to the extent of demanding on what sanction is the authority based. You shall never be able to be free on this earth so long as you remain a voluntary subject to forces unknown and unknowable.

M N Roy, 1963

Among [the qualities to be encouraged in children] the chief seem to me: curiosity, open-mindedness, belief that knowledge is possible though difficult, patience, industry, concentration and exactness. Of these, curiosity is fundamental; where it is strong and directed to the right objects, all the rest will follow.

Bertrand Russell, 1926


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *