Last night while preparing dinner, I was listening to podcast. It’s the best time to drown out the noise of the kids playing in the background. It’s when they are quiet I’m worried.
Anyway, I was listening to Pints with Aquinas (totally geeking out) and the episode on curiosity piqued my interest. I was curious on what Aquinas has to say about curiosity. Oh the irony!
To be curious is to want to gain knowledge, which is not a bad thing. It only becomes bad for these two reasons:
1. It is an inordinate desire for learning. That is—to learn something that (Pardon my French) we have no business learning about.
2. The knowledge gain will with lead to sin or teach us how to sin.
Curiosity Killed The Cat?
I always though about the phrase, “Curiosity killed the cat,” but I never fully understand why.
What do we gain from learning about the different gods that the ancient Egyptians worshiped? For a person who doesn’t study world religion and history, outside the Old Testament—the knowege is only to understand why the plagues were done as the were.
However, we don’t need to know the rituals they performed while they sacrificed things to their gods. That is information we really don’t need to know.
The second point was that the knowledge will teach us how to sin. So let’s talk about a popular topic (it’s really not popular), chastity. A person who was looking to avoid getting in the near occasion wouldn’t even skirt with the idea.
However, a person who is curious about it, would try to gain knowledge that will ultimately teach them on what not to do. A great example is a young boy who is curious about the female form. He innocently googles a female body part and ultimately their curiosity leads them to the dark recesses of the internet.
So then I was wondering, does that mean I can’t really learn about anything? Isn’t the point to gain knowledge is get smarter.
Well he further goes on the explain that studious behavior is indeed a virtue. What separates the two is means of the end.
In other words am I:
- Gaining knowledge to be seen as smart (vainglory).
- Learning about things because I’m bored and it just seems interesting to learn (useless information).
- Studying to be a better person.
- Learning to know, love, and serve God better?
As I continue to homeschool my kids, I always ask myself these questions: Why am I teaching them this information and why is it important that they learn it.
I would love for them to love learning— as long as it’s rightly ordered. Over the years I’ve come to realize that knowledge in itself is neutral. It is what we end up learning and doing with the knowledge that would determine what it is ordered towards.
I guess to sum it all up, I’ve been told, be careful what you read, for your mind will go in that direction. Be careful what you allow to get into your mind.
Do you see a difference between curiosity and wonder?