Hume ends Book II of his Treatise of Human Nature with a section on the passion of curiosity, ‘that love of truth, which was the first source of all our enquiries’. At first sight, this characterisation of curiosity – as the motivating factor in that specifically human activity that is the pursuit of knowledge – may seem unoriginal. However, when Hume speaks of the ‘source of all our enquiries’, he is referring both to the universal human pursuit of knowledge and to his own philosophical project. Seen in this light, Hume’s discussion of curiosity takes on a new significance, as it weaves together elements of his systematic account of human nature – notably, his theory of cognition and motivation – with observations about the pursuit of philosophy as well as the progress of the arts and sciences. In the present paper, I offer a reconstruction of Hume’s view on curiosity and its role in cognition and inquiry.
Philosophy Seminar Series.
Date: Thursday, 10 May 2012
Venue: Philosophy Resource Room (AS3 Level 5)
Speaker: Axel Gelfert, Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, National University of Singapore
Moderator: Dr. Ben Blumson
About the Speaker: Axel Gelfert is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the National University of Singapore and Co-Chair of the Science, Technology, and Society (STS) Research Cluster at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Since 2011, he has also been an Associate Fellow at Tembusu College. He completed his PhD in History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge in 2005, after which he spent a year as a Junior Fellow at Collegium Budapest (Institute for Advanced Study), before arriving at NUS in 2006. His research and teaching revolve around issues in the philosophy of science and technology, social epistemology, and history of philosophy.