It is an inexpressible pleasure to know a little of the world, and be of no character or significancy in it.
To be ever unconcerned, and ever looking on new objects with an endless curiosity, is a delight known only to those who are turned for speculation.
Richard Steele, ‘The Hours of London’, The Spectator, vol. 4, no. 454 (August 11, 1712)
I remember my first day at Radcliffe. It was a day full of interest for me. I had looked forward to it for years. A potent force within me, stronger than the persuasion of my friends, stronger even than the pleadings of my heart, had impelled me to try my strength by the standards of those who see and hear. I knew that there were obstacles in the way; but I was eager to overcome them. I had taken to heart the words of the wise Roman who said, “To be banished from Rome is but to live outside of Rome.” Debarred from the great highways of knowledge, I was compelled to make the journey across country by unfrequented roads—that was all; and I knew that in college there were many bypaths where I could touch hands with girls who were thinking, loving and struggling like me.
I began my studies with eagerness. Before me I saw a new world opening in beauty and light, and I felt within me the capacity to know all things.
Helen Keller, The Story of My Life, New York, 1903, ch. 20
Curiosity is the spark that starts a flirtation—in a bar, at a party, across the lecture hall in Economics 101. And curiosity ultimately nourishes that romance, and all our best human relationships—marriages, friendships, the bond between parents and children. The curiosity to ask a simple question—“How was your day?” or “How are you feeling?—to listen to the answer, and to ask the next question.
Brian Grazer, A Curious Mind: the Secret to a Bigger Life, New York, 2015, p. 7
It is […] nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of enquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wreck and ruin without fail. It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty.
Albert Einstein, ‘Autobiographical Notes’, in Paul A. Schilpp (ed.), Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist, Berkeley, 1949, p. 17