Curiosity and Development of Humans

Merak ve İnsanın Gelişimi

Is it a bad thing for people to have the sense of curiosity, which is quite hard to describe what it is or how it functions? Is this a search that is harmful for people in various ways? In this article, let’s focus on the positive relationship and topic, which I believe to be between curiosity and humans/humanity.

Characteristics, such as going beyond the small natural circle they live in, animating a different place on their minds through imagination in advance, never confining themselves to currently available things, and searching for the new, are the starting points of the biggest and fundamental changes in the entire history of humanity. This strong urge and/or sensation is shortly called “curiosity”. These strong affections, namely the perpetual state of curiosity, are the fundamental source of the developments and major changes in science and civilization.

If our ancestors had not gone beyond their small living circles where they lived, there wouldn’t be anything new in our life practices. In fact, even the current “we” would most likely not appear. They would probably keep that small community, and would not attempt to do actions that would lead to the creation of a new thing. As a consequence, everything would be petrified and keep their constancy, in which case there would be no civilization. Yes, it can be clearly said that all these are caused by curiosity; sense of curiosity is the sister of development. If fundamental and concrete necessities have the first place at the source of development and change, then the sense of curiosity has the second place. If this weren’t the case and if the people always thought what they learned from their elders are the only truth, then how would the development, which is fueled by the difference between generations, occur? So to speak, to be a “naughty kid” and to go beyond the borders determined and shown by the natural circle are essentially the same things as the motivation beneath the discoveries. Deviation from what is “norm” is not a principle that always leads to bad things, but it is the source of developments and discoveries most of the time.

Let’s continue with a concrete example from the history of science. If someone were to ask what the most important event that attempted to explain the history of vitality was, many people would probably say “the discovery of the process of evolution”. But how did this discovery happen? Charles Darwin being curious about the events in the change of the living beings of different species, him attempting to find out the source of this diversity, and him chasing his curiosity through research methods without limiting himself to that curiosity led to a groundbreaking, major event. Curiosity is naturally the initial point of origin in these types of discoveries; nevertheless, it is only possible to reach a conclusion in company with time and systematic efforts solidified by the methods of science; otherwise, a draft would remain only as a curiosity. Darwin was curious about the change of living creatures, researched the transformation, metamorphosis and origins of species in general, along with their developing or missing limbs, which eventually led him to put forward a process of development. Regardless of what it is or of its details, the point we focus on here is the presence of the sense of curiosity which was the driving force of the study he put forward. If it weren’t for his curiosity, there wouldn’t even be a ground for scientific developments. This is a type of curiosity that goes forward in a different track than daily benefits and pragmatisms, and short-term profit targets.

Why? To know, to learn, to transfer and to discover. This is what it’s all about. Beyond having an access to and penetrating into information, other results are just details. Nevertheless, all this process can also function virtually as a therapy. A person would simultaneously feed those concerned around them by initially discovering his/her personality, and by focusing on getting satisfaction from what s/he does by his/her own skills. Why do people write articles, give lectures, or create fictitious novels? They chase their curiosity in the process of writing and create fictions, around which a new world is formed. A new community will occur around the sense of curiosity that has become common, and going after a similar target will give the person a separate serenity. The new situation caused by this curiosity will also be the source of development.

Within this context, Şevket Süreyya Aydemir, one of the most significant traveler-thinkers of the past century, said this about human curiosity and about being in a search in a direct relationship with that: “The price I paid is my entire life. But I’m not sorry about that. The price I paid is not that much compared to the source I reached. Because in the search for this source, I found the most precious thing I lost for all these years, I found myself.” (Suyu Arayan Adam, pg. 408).

This is probably an extremely right and sound assessment. Because it is clearly certain that there will be a change-development at the end of the passion to search (if there is an end) driven by an endless curiosity. Even if this great network of changes is not present, humans will be the point of origin for their own change. It is actually not quite possible to call it a minor change…

A curiosity that is wide enough to watch the whole world through the end of a lens always harbors the power that could be a solid first step of understanding, interpreting and developing the entire world. Even if we fail to see the things under our noses from time to time, at the end of discovering the world with the endlessness of the horizon, we also discover the reality that is right next to us. May our eyes always be on that lens, on those new places on the horizon; may our curiosity and wish to develop never end… The source of this life, which is always alive and always self-renewing in some way, and the power of creation of new things spring from this curiosity. May your curiosity be endless!