Curiosity is not an Infantile Disorder

Some people seem to know it all; there's nothing you can show them or tell them that they haven’t seen or heard before. They never ask any questions because they know all the answers. They’ve lost their sense of wonder – if they ever had one, and for them curiosity is something puerile like an infantile disorder.

If you don’t ask you won’t know

And yet there’s nothing like a good question. After all, every learning and cognitive process starts from a sense of curiosity out of which a question in search of an answer is born.

Socrates knew this, the founder of a school of philosophy in the 4th century before our modern time reckoning, and the man who taught his students to ask clever questions. “I know but one thing – that I know nothing” is his most famous maxim with which he interrogated everything that that was generally seen as known, obvious, and natural.  

For him it was clear that true wisdom would only be acquired by those who went out into the world with a sense of humility and curiosity. Only if you interrogate and continue to probe can you arrive at true knowledge. This is why the initial state of “ignorance” is one of the fundamental pillars of his school of thought.  


Curiosity as the key to diversity

I’m certain that Socrates was right. The number of unsolved questions in this world and universe of which we form a part is so vast that each answer that we find to some question instantly gives birth to yet another question. This at least is what those research scientists find whom we have to thank for a not inconsiderable number of new discoveries and developments. If we believe that one single individual can have an answer to everything, we do little more than limit the great horizon of questions down to a myopic field.  Whoever believes that there’s nothing more new under the sun has ceased to discover the world and by doing so has also ceased to know themselves. They stay fixed on the same spot and stop evolving.

Because life means movement and diversity. And doesn’t this just make the art of asking questions an elementary and deeply intelligent tool for living? Curiosity is a key to open up the doors of a world of diversity.


Space for discovery

Not just science but art too can trigger such questions, such wonder and discovery. OUBEY was equally enamoured of art and science. He was an artist who questioned and probed. His paintings ask questions but they also give answers which in turn lead to new questions. That’s what makes them so exciting.  

That OUBEYs had this quality was something I could see time and again in the Encounters . People would stand before his paintings and gaze at them, thoughtful, fascinated, surprised, and with a questioning look in their eyes. They embarked on voyages of discovery that took them deep into the paintings. Filled with curiosity, they opened themselves up to the questions that the paintings triggered in them. And, deeply emotional, they sought the answers to such questions within themselves.

What really is unhelpful for viewing OUBEYs paintings is some seemingly omniscient scholar who reduces them to a mere form of explanation. What they do need is a broad open space where they can encounter people and encounter the world. Give them that, and the questions and answers to the question flow without any prompting. Because they come from deep inside the viewers themselves.

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