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Why We Always Desire to Know More

by Anna Flaherty 4 years ago in humanity
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And Why We Will Never Stop

Photo by Janko Ferlic from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/blur-book-stack-books-bookshelves-590493/

As human beings, we inherently strive to know more and more and more. When will this stop? Probably never. We seek out answers and knowledge and facts relentlessly and I expect that we always will. And this extends further than simply scientific pursuits. It occurs just as much in our everyday lives—hearing snippets of conversation and wanting to know the full story, hearing gossip and wanting to know what's happening. We see it all the time in popular culture, right back to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein in 1818, whose protagonist Victor was destroyed by his craving for scientific discovery, and even before that.

Sometimes we are seeking reassurance from a particular thing, a scientific basis for comfort. Perhaps you want to be reassured that life will go on after Earth becomes inhabitable, perhaps you want to know that there are ways to cure disease, perhaps you want to know that whatever is bothering you is irrational. From a survival perspective, this makes perfect sense: we want to rationalise our fears and reassure ourselves that things are okay. Through gaining knowledge we feel more secure—the more we know the more we feel in a position to combat anything that might come our way, be it an issue of actual survival or otherwise.

As such an integral part of our existence, it stands to reason that our curiosity is not something we will evolve out of, however the ways in which we pursue this knowledge does adapt over time.

The search for knowledge can be both noble and selfish, depending on the motive. Some people wish to know more in order to advance fields such as science or medicine for the benefits to all of us collectively. This is for the good of us all, and is a respected seeking of more. But there are also those who wish for recognition. While we move away from humility here, there is really nothing wrong with wanting to discover something that makes you remembered forever, but it is a different type of pursuit. But whichever category we fall into, we are all accustomed to succumb to this desire for more knowledge.

The criminal mind is also curious. Have you ever heard a story or even an interview where somebody convicted of a serious crime can offer no explanation for why they did what they did? Probably. And sure, some of these people will be masking their motives for reasons best known only to them, but for the rest of them—those who are genuinely uncertain—they just wanted to see what would happen. And this demonstrates how our desire to learn more and see more can turn into something more sinister. It can take hold until we drive ourselves insane trying to know more.

The compiling of scientific fact is of great use to the entirety of humanity—curing disease, discovering new technology, searching for the potential to expand our lives beyond Earth. These are all important things that some of us strive for in order to further humanity. While most of us are not active in this search, we all are curious—do aliens exist? Will we ever be able to live on another planet? But these things are all key to our survival in the future, and we are programmed to seek the answers to these questions as a species.

From a social perspective, there are many factors which impact how much we want to know. We fear not fitting in with everyone—if we feel that we are in a room where we are the only person who does not know something, then we feel inferior to them. We want so desperately to know the thing that they know. For some reason, that little piece of knowledge has so much importance to us, no matter what it is. We just desire so much to be the same. We may not even recognise this as a desire of knowledge, more as something that we need for reasons we don't quite understand. Psychologically, the basis for this search would have originated from survival. We wanted to know the most and give ourselves the greatest opportunities possible.

For all of these—and a multitude of other—reasons, we will probably never stop seeking to know more—in any areas of our lives. There is always something more we can know.


About the author

Anna Flaherty

Politics graduate, usually buried in ink and paper.

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