Is curiosity good or bad?

Curiously looking through a binoculars.


Where did I come from?” “Where?” “Why?” “How?”

Such is the refrain loving parents continually hear from their young children.

Yes, children have a strong instinctive curiosity.

They want to know the whys and wherefores of things.

But do you know that this curiosity is one of human’s greatest gifts?

It has proved to be of great help to humankind, but, like all other instincts and qualities, its use can be wise or otherwise, foolish or even harmful.

Curiosity has been defined as “an eager desire to know.”

Also, as “the desire to see or learn something that is new or unknown.”

Curiosity has been an important factor in extending human’s range of knowledge, and is to the mind what the appetite is to the body.

But, as has well been noted, there are different kinds of curiosity, bad as well as good.

That is why it has also been defined in a bad sense as “inquisitiveness,” which is “the condition of being too eager to know,” and as a “prying into other people’s affairs.”

Yes, curiosity can be misdirected. 

As an American essayist once expressed it: “Curiosity is lying in wait for every secret.”

It is obvious that curiosity, if not properly controlled, might become a weakness rather than an asset.

The kind of curiosity that needs to be guarded against is the curiosity directed toward what is evil, cruel, wicked.

Some people are curious regarding the vivid details of shocking murders or sordid violent cases, or other forms of extremist views.

But one cannot feed the mind on such things, even out of curiosity, without being harmed by it, no more than one can take poison into one’s body, merely out of curiosity, without being harmed by it.

For example, many youths have become drug addicts simply because of curiosity as to what it is like to take a drug.

But, wisely directed, curiosity can prove to be a real asset.

Thus it has well been noted that “curiosity is an intellectual trait that distinguishes humans from all animals as clearly and completely as their capacity to think.”

This is seen in as simple a thing as travel.

Apes limit their wanderings to at most fifteen square miles, while man has searched out the four corners of the earth.

Truly, curiosity is one of the great gifts with which humans are endowed with.

It was curiosity that caused Isaac Newton to discover the law of gravity.

Because of the possibilities that curiosity thus presents, a Yale professor of history once told a new group of college students that, while curiosity may be frowned upon by many people, his institution placed a high value on men with great curiosity.

He also explained that, while a research scientist, if asked about his efforts, might reply that he is hoping to discover or produce something of practical value, actually he is out to gain knowledge per se, of itself, regardless of whether it will result in anything practical or beneficial to mankind or not.

While all such curiosity per se may have possibilities, of greater value to humankind is that kind of curiosity or inventiveness that is directed at specific goals.

For example, there is a Danish inventor who discovered how to raise sunken ships.

Because of the practical turn of this curiosity, many are the businessmen that beat a path to his door for him to help.

No question about it, curiosity if wisely directed, will leads to a greater understanding of your environment and this will greatly increase your purpose in life.