The Table Video

Robert C. Roberts, Jason Baehr, Gregg Ten Elshof & Janelle Aijian

Curiosity: Virtue or Vice?

Professor of Ethics and Emotion Theory at the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues
Professor of Philosophy, Loyola Marymount University
CCT Scholar-in-Residence and Executive Board Member / Professor of Philosophy, Biola University
Assistant Professor, Torrey Honors Institute, Biola University
July 3, 2015

Classic Christian thinkers like St. Augustine rejected curiosity as an intellectual and spiritual vice. But contemporary philosophers and educators often praise it as a virtue. Well, which is it? A virtue or a vice? Philosopher Robert C. Roberts explains one way of looking at curiosity.

Transcript: Curiosity—Virtue or Vice?

If you look at the reasons that the classic, Christian thinkers had for rejecting curiosity as a virtue, you see that they are actually moral, kind of moral criteria. So for example, Augustine thought of curiosity as just a kind of, indiscriminate desire for sensory stimulation and sensational knowledge, maybe gossip and kinds of knowledge that we think are, actually degrade us or are at best, are unimportant, trivial or something.

And so, one of the virtues that an intellectually competent person needs is an ability to discriminate the important matters to know and understand from the unimportant or even corrupting matters.

About the Authors