‘O Vain Curiosity! O Curious Vanity!’

The usual, incomparable combinatorial brilliance from @brainpickings about a focus du jour, which you may have guessed from the blog title is the subject of curiosity. Absolutely, just read the original article – it will make you wonder…

My interest in curiosity is its role as the base element of the TMWK Manifesto.

From the article, Aristotle thought, apparently, curiosity to be “…a kind of aimless, witless tendency to pry into things that didn’t concern us.”

Yes. What does concern us?

This is a central conundrum in a world of “more, always more.” There are two ways to approach the exponential growth in information in our lives. Firstly, run for the hills, complaining of banality, fearful of our orientation to the world. Lost.


We move forward to capture, the best we can, the knowledge that emerges from the torrent of data. Instead of accepting curiosity as “the unbridled desire of those who seek to know more than they should,” we acclaim curiosity as “the unbridled desire of those who seek to know more than they would.

@brainpickings makes me VERY curious!

The image shows a classical personification of the human quality of curiosity, by the Italian author Cesare Ripa  [Iconologia (1593)] “as a wild, disheveled woman, driving home the message in the caption: ‘Curiosity is the unbridled desire of those who seek to know more than they should.’

The article references theological warnings “to respect the limits of enquiry and to be wary of too much learning.” Solomon [King James version] cautions:

Be not curious in unnecessary matters:
For more things are shewed unto thee than men understand.”


‘O curiosity! O vanity!’, cried the late twelfth-century theologian Alexander Neckam. ‘O vain curiosity! O curious vanity!’


Wonder, on the other hand, “instilled awe, reminding us of our powerlessness and insignificance before the glory of God…Curiosity, like scepticism, was a sign that you lacked devotion and faith.”

I am no theologian. I see wonder in the world and I do not need to understand it. But, I am madly curious about all sorts of things and in a world of flux I reckon this is a GOOD THING. As the TMWK Manifesto says:

“Curiosity is the muscle to help us manage change. It moves us through and toward…”

So, are you curious?

← This Much We Know.→

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